->''"I wanted to teach you- oh, everything the earth is full of, Helen, everything on it that’s ours for a wink and it's gone, and what we are on it, the- light we bring to it and leave behind in- words, why, you can see five thousand years back in a light of words, everything we feel, think, know- and share, in words, so not a soul is in darkness, or done with, even in the grave. And I know, I '''know''', one word and I can- put the world in your hand- and whatever it is to me, I won’t take less!"''
-->-- '''Annie Sullivan''', Act III

''The Miracle Worker'' is a play by William Gibson. Written in 1956, it tells the true story of how Anne Sullivan became the teacher and companion to deaf-blind Helen Keller.

The play premiered in 1957 in a ''Playhouse 90'' broadcast. In 1959, it was shown on Broadway with Creator/AnneBancroft as Annie Sullivan and Creator/PattyDuke as Helen Keller. In 1961 it was performed in London’s West End starring Anna Massey and Janina Faye.

There have been three movie adaptations. The best known is the 1962 version, with Anne Bancroft and Creator/PattyDuke assuming their Broadway roles. Both actresses won Oscars for their roles; Bancroft for Best Leading Actress and Duke for Best Supporting Actress (who at 16, was the youngest Oscar winner at the time). In 1979, Patty Duke took on the role of Anne Sullivan and Melissa Gilbert played Helen. In 2000, Disney took its shot at the story, with Alison Elliott and Hallie Kate Eisenberg. The 1979 and 2000 versions were released direct to TV.

The play has been critically acclaimed, making the cover of ''Time'' magazine, and has won several Tony Awards.

!!''The Miracle Worker'' contains examples of:

* AdultFear: Dealing with a violent child who cannot communicate and frequently puts herself and others in danger, especially when the alternative is to put her in [[BedlamHouse an asylum for "mental defectives"]].
* ArmorPiercingQuestion:
-->'''Captain Keller:''' Miss Sullivan, do you like the child?
-->'''Annie Sullivan:''' Do you?
* AsTheGoodBookSays: When asked to say grace at the homecoming party, James recites the passage from Genesis 32 about Jacob wrestling with an angel.
* BasedOnATrueStory: Dramatization strength.
* BedlamHouse: According to her own retelling, Annie grew up in such a place.
* BilingualBonus: Annie and Helen frequently finger-spell throughout the play.
* BilingualDialogue: Annie and Kate have a conversation switching back and forth between English and finger-spelling. Justified, as Annie is trying to encourage Kate to learn to spell with her fingers.
* CatapultNightmare: Annie has a bad dream while on the train and it ends with her startling dramatically in her seat.
* CorporalPunishment: Annie slaps Helen when Helen hits her.
* DeniedFoodAsPunishment: One of Annie's teaching methods for Helen which the mother disapproves of.
* {{Disneyfication}}: Partly averted. The Disney version retains the physical violence and the black plantation workers, though it does tone down Anne’s backstory.
* DontYouDarePityMe: Annie tells Kate not to pity her, despite the fact that Annie had grown up in an almhouse, because it made her strong.
* DownerBeginning: The first scene shows the Kellers' shock at realizing that Helen cannot see or hear. The next scene shows how difficult the several years since then were for the family.
* EurekaMoment: Just as described in Helen Keller's autobiography, feeling water from a pump as Annie spells out the word causes her to suddenly make the connection that the symbols ''are'' the things; everything around her has a name, and her finger game has actually been teaching her a language.
* FamousAncestor: Aunt Ev reminds Kate that Helen is a Keller, and that all the Kellers are cousins to General Robert E. Lee.
* GoodVersusGood: Annie and the Kellers are both trying hard to do what’s best for Helen, but they clash over what that means.
* HeelRealization: Annie removes her dark glasses in response to Captain Keller's complaint. Then he learns that any kind of light hurts her eyes, and tells her to put them back on.
* HiddenDepths: The whole premise of the film helps to show off how much Helen emulates this, in-universe. Additionally, James Keller (Helen's condescending half-brother) also demonstrates this in the film's climax, being the only one to realize that Helen's attempts at misbehaving are just a way of testing Anne. See JerkWithAHeartOfGold, below.
* ImprobablyPredictable: Viney predicts how the Captain will respond to the news that supper will be delayed. Indeed, he later responds exactly as she predicted.
* IronicEcho: When James mentions that Helen locked Annie in her room, the Captain asks why he didn't tell them earlier upon which James echoes an earlier line directed towards him: "Everyone's been telling me not to say anything."
* HandSignals: Helen's most effective means of communication before learning language. Most notably, she strokes her cheek to indicate that she wants her mother, and adults nod or shake their heads against her hand to indicate yes or no. (She had over ''sixty'' such signs (they're called home signs) long before Annie arrived.)
* LivingDollCollector: Anne Sullivan describes her own time in the orphan asylum/poor house growing up as a child. She and her brother lived in the room where the babies of prostitutes were kept until they died (of the STD's they contracted from their mothers), and were kept there until burial. She and her brother would play with them. It's unclear from the script if they stopped playing with them after they were dead.
* MaidenAunt: Aunt Ev.
* {{Mammy}}: Viney.
* NoAntagonist
* NonverbalMiscommunication: Most of Helen's attempts to express her wants and needs are either misunderstood or disregarded by those around her. Conversely, she understands very little of what her family tries to tell her.
* OurActsAreDifferent: As written, this is a three-act show. The physical demands of Act 2 make both intermissions almost essential.
* PragmaticAdaptation: Of the early part of Helen Keller's autobiography.
* PsychoLesbian: Alluded to in Annie's talk about the asylum she grew up in: "The asylum? [...] There were [...] some of the kind that keep after other girls, especially the young ones."
* RealityIsUnrealistic: Some viewers consider it unrealistic that Helen is portrayed saying "wah-wah" to mean “water” when she was too young to learn to speak before her illness. However, according to her autobiography, Helen was 19 months old and had begun to speak when she became sick. She did indeed say "wah-wah" and claimed that she retained that word for a long time after most memory of speech had faded.
* RemakeCameo: Patty Duke, who had played Helen both on Broadway and in the 1962 movie, came back to play Annie in the 1979 version.
* ShoutOut: At the beginning of the third act, James apologizes to Kate, saying that frogs jump out when he opens his mouth, "like that fairy tail", a reference to the French fairy tale by Charles Perrault, [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamonds_and_Toads Diamonds and Toads]].
* ShownTheirWork: Much of the play is taken directly from Helen Keller's autobiography and Anne Sullivan's letters. The letters are occasionally used as monologue for Anne's character.
** For the most part, the finger-spelling is correct and consistent with real ASL, though a few errors can be spotted if one looks closely.
* SuddenlyVoiced: Helen in the final scene.
* SweetHomeAlabama: Specifically, Tuscumbia, Alabama.
* TeethFlying: Annie spits out a tooth after getting smashed in the face by Helen.
* TemptingFate: On their second encounter, Annie shows Helen the difference between "bad girl" (with a nasty face) and "good girl" (with a big bright artificial smile). She tells Helen she's a "''very'' good girl" upon which the latter smashes a vase on the floor. (She's apparently trying to ask if this too is "bad girl", to which Annie signals that it is.)
* TimeSkip: The opening scene shows Helen's birth. Then we skip six to seven years ahead for the remainder of the story.
* TooHungryToBePolite: Helen Keller is portrayed as having had no table manners to speak of prior to the arrival of her teacher, Annie Sullivan.
* TrainingFromHell: Helen receives this from Annie. The breakfast scene in particular.
* TrashTheSet:
** The famous breakfast scene in which Helen trashes the dining room.
---> '''Annie Sullivan:''' The room's a wreck, but her napkin is folded.
** Also later when Helen arrives in the garden house, she makes a huge mess of the interior.