The Miracle Worker

by

William Gibson

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Sight and blindness Symbol Analysis

Sight and blindness Symbol Icon

As one might expect, The Miracle Worker is laden with symbols relating to sight and blindness. At one point, Annie Sullivan makes this symbolism explicit by noting, “Language is to the mind more than light is to the eye.” In this way, the play suggests that there are different kinds of “sight,” both literal and metaphorical. Helen Keller is literally blind, but more importantly, her blindness and deafness have made her ignorant of the world at large. She knows nothing of language, and therefore nothing of society. She is a wild child, who spends her days rolling around on the floor next to the family dog. This certainly doesn’t mean that Gibson is condemning blindness or blind people, but he does use Keller’s blindness as a metaphor for other types of ignorance. Helen overcomes her debilitating condition by learning to “see,” in the sense that she learns how to communicate through sign language, which in turn enables her to learn about the world.

Sight and blindness Quotes in The Miracle Worker

The The Miracle Worker quotes below all refer to the symbol of Sight and blindness. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Communication Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of The Miracle Worker published in 2008.
Act 1 Quotes

ANAGNOS: Deaf blind, mute—who knows? She is like a little safe, locked, that no one can open. Perhaps there is a treasure inside.

Related Characters: Anagnos (speaker), Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller
Related Symbols: Sight and blindness
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

ANNIE: I have three big advantages over Dr. Howe that money couldn't buy for you. One is his work behind me, I've read every word he wrote about it and he wasn't exactly what you'd call a man of few words. Another is to be young, why, I've got energy to do anything. The third is, I've been blind.

Related Characters: Annie Sullivan (speaker), Helen Keller, Dr. Howe
Related Symbols: Sight and blindness
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

KELLER: Here’s a houseful of grownups can't cope with the child, how can an inexperienced half-blind Yankee schoolgirl manage her?

Related Characters: Captain Arthur Keller (speaker), Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller
Related Symbols: Sight and blindness
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Miracle Worker LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Miracle Worker PDF

Sight and blindness Symbol Timeline in The Miracle Worker

The timeline below shows where the symbol Sight and blindness appears in The Miracle Worker. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Family Theme Icon
...named Martha and Percy, who are cutting paper with a pair of scissors. Helen is blind and deaf, and she thrusts her hands around, occasionally hitting Martha and Percy. When Helen... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...she runs her fingers over the doll’s face, she notices that the doll has no eyes or features, and taps questioningly. Nobody notices. (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
The lights go up, revealing a room full of equipment designed for teaching the blind. Annie Sullivan, aged twenty, is sitting with her eyes closed. Anagnos addresses Annie, explaining that... (full context)
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
...earlier. After “Jimmie died,” Annie recalls, she enrolled in the school, where she got her “eyes back” and learned “how to help” and “how to live again.” (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Anagnos opens the door and ushers in a group of blind children, who announce that they’ve bought Annie a going-away gift: a pair of smoked glasses... (full context)
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...is heard—that of a grown man. The man reports that Annie, aged nine, is “virtually blind,” while James, aged seven, can’t walk without a crutch. The man explains that Annie and... (full context)
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...that Annie is so young, and wonders if anyone has ever succeeded in teaching a deaf-blind child even a fraction of what “an ordinary child” learns. Annie admits that the answer... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
...of Dr. Howe (the doctor the Kellers previously hired), and, finally, she herself was formerly blind. Annie will begin by teaching Helen language—and language, she explains, ‘is to the mind more... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...kind of young woman.” Arthur notices Annie’s smoked glasses, and Kate explains that Annie was blind, and has had nine eye operations. Arthur mutters, “here’s a houseful of grownups can’t cope... (full context)
Act 2
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
...a battered copy of her “Perkins report.” A man’s voice can be heard describing a blind, deaf, mute woman as being “buried alive.” The man wonders, rhetorically, if there is anyone... (full context)
Communication Theme Icon
Learning and Teaching Theme Icon
Pity vs. Tough Love Theme Icon
Annie tells the Kellers that Helen’s worst handicap isn’t deafness or blindness—it’s her own parents’ spoiling affection and pity. Annie will never be able to teach Helen,... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...in “the state almshouse,” along with her brother Jimmie. The place was full of old, blind women, and younger, diseased people. Annie and Jimmie used to play in a room called... (full context)