Conflicts within "The Miracle Worker"

Essay by gnome619High School, 10th gradeA+, May 2004

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In the play The Miracle Worker, by William Gibson, there is quite a bit of conflict; there is Helen vs. herself, Helen vs. Annie, Annie vs. herself, and so on.

In the conflict of Helen vs. herself, she is fighting for one main reason, her disability, and her resulting inability to communicate with others. Her disability of not being able to see or hear is a result of a childhood illness. Though she has tried she could not, before she met Annie, speak. This failing led to fits of rage in which she attacked herself, anybody, or anything. Examples of these fits are when she attacked Martha, or tried to smash her doll's head on the floor.

A second conflict Helen is in is with Annie. Annie tries to teach Helen sign language; Helen responds by throwing tantrums, thinking Annie is a problem that can be sent away with a few fits, like any other past problem in her life.

Annie sees these fits for what they are though, Helen's main communication to the world. When Annie tries to make sign language her main communication Helen throws fits until she realizes that Annie isn't going away, and isn't going to give in to a few tantrums. Helen comes to respect, even love Annie when Helen learns that her finger games are a means to communicate to the outside world.

Annie is involved in another conflict, with herself. With this conflict she feels guilty about leaving her brother Jimmie in the State Alms House so that she could get an education. Annie had sworn to take care of Jimmie and figured she was doing this for both of them. While she was away though, her brother died, leaving her wracked with guilt over leaving him. Eventually Annie comes to realize that she had done what she could for her brother. This resolve in a way helped her with her conflict with Helen; she wasn't about to let the Kellers send her to the infirmary.

The conflicts in The Miracle Worker led to a rather interesting book. They also show that few disabilities are actually impossible to overcome.