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Characters / The Miracle Worker

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Annie Sullivan

Anne Mansfield Sullivan is a "half-blind Yankee schoolgirl" who moves to Alabama to try to teach language to Helen Keller.

  • Bad Dreams
  • Cool Shades: Justified in late 19th-century America as they protect her weak eyes, but they're still cool.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In the dinner scene in both the 1962 and 1979 movies, Annie snarks silently at Helen, knowing that she can neither see nor hear her. Helen has been lying on the ground, acting out by kicking her boots, but when nobody comes to pick her up, she falls silent. Annie, who's been sitting at the table eating her dinner, lifts a forkful of food and raises it ironically at Helen, as if to say "Screw you, kid, I'm eating."
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  • Determinator: Annie is determined to get Helen to realise her potential, and will stop at nothing to make it happen.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!
  • Genius Cripple: Partially blind (and totally blind later in her life), but smarter than shit.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: An abrasive teacher than nevertheless wants Helen to thrive.
  • Magical Nanny: Type Two
  • Self-Deprecation / Stealth Insult:
    Annie: Well, what should I say, I’m an ignorant opinionated girl, and everything I am I owe to you?
    Anagnos: That is only half true, Annie.
    Annie: Which half?
  • You Make Me Sic: Annie admits from the start that she isn’t good at spelling, but she starts studying her dictionary to be sure that anything she spells to Helen, she spells right.
  • Voice for the Voiceless: Annie tells other characters (and the audience) what words Helen is finger-spelling.

Helen Keller

Struck by illness as an infant which left her deaf and blind, six-year-old Helen is wild and out of control with no way of communicating with others.

  • And I Must Scream: Far more realistic and less gruesome than most examples, Helen spent five years in complete darkness and silence with no way of communicating with the people around her except for vague gestures and horrible tantrums.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Once she learns about language, everything gets better.
  • The Speechless: While not physically mute, Helen does not know how to speak, and most of her vocalizations are wordless, feral sounds (the real Helen eventually did learn to speak by feeling people's mouth and throat as they said various words).
  • Spoiled Brat: Her parents can’t find it in their hearts to “discipline an afflicted child.”
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Finger-spelling in her sleep.
  • Wild Child


Kate Keller

Helen's mother

Captain Arthur Keller

Helen's father

James Keller

Helen's older half-brother

  • Calling the Old Man Out: During the climax of Act 3:
    "She's right, Kate's right, I'm right and you're wrong. If you drive her away from here it will be over my dead—chair. Has it never occurred to you that on one occasion you might be consummately wrong?"
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: James Keller starts off the film as an apparent JerkAss who cares little for his half-sister, recommending that she be sent off to an asylum, and is rather condescending to Anne in his reference to her as someone else "to look after" after discovering that she's partially blind. That said, as the film goes on and Helen's gradual process in communicating becomes clear, James softens somewhat and sees Anne's presence as beneficial. It gets to the point where, right after his father insists on having her removed again in the film's climax, James actually defends Anne's methods and calls his father out on finally being wrong for once in his life.
  • The Un-Favourite: Implied.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy

Example of: