Illustration of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson

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Media Adaptations

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 122

The Miracle Worker was originally written for television and produced on CBS's Playhouse 90 in February of 1957. Teresa Wright starred as Annie and Patty McCormack portrayed Helen.

The film version of The Miracle Worker was produced in 1962 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was adapted by Gibson himself, directed by Arthur Penn, and stars Anne Bancroft as Annie and Patty Duke as Helen—both leads in the original Broadway production of the play. The film is available on videocassette.

The 1979 television remake of The Miracle Worker, which stars Patty Duke as the teacher Annie and Melissa Gilbert as Helen, is available on videocassette from Warner Home Video. The production bears noting, as the same script used for the original Playhouse 90 production was used for this remake.

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Brustein, Robert "Two for the Miracle," in The New Republic, Vol. 144, no. 19, November 9,1959, pp. 28-29.

Duprey, Richard A. ''An Enema for the People'' in his Just Off the Aisle: The Ramblings of a Catholic Critic, Newman Press, 1962, pp. 135-46.

Hayes, Richard. "Images" in Commonweal, Vol LXXI, no. 10, December 4, 1959, p. 289.

Atkinson, Brooks. "Miracle Worker. Two Strong Minds and Two Strong Players" in the New York Times, November 1, 1959, p. 1.

A favorable review of the play's Broadway premiere Atkinson finds favor with both Gibson's material and the performances of the lead actresses.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 23, Gale, 1983.

Provides an overview of Gibson's work, providing criticism on a number of his plays, including The Miracle Worker.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 7: Twentieth Century American Dramatists, Gale, 1981.

An overview of Gibson's career, with insights into a number of his works.

Tynan, Kenneth. "Ireland Unvanquished" in the New Yorker, Vol. XXXV, no. 37, October 31,1959, pp. 131-36.

A mixed review of The Miracle Worker that ultimately finds the play somewhat exploitive.


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Brustein, Robert. “Two for the Miracle.” The New Republic 141, no. 19 (November 9, 1959): 28-29. Argues that Gibson is a gifted writer, with literary and dramatic skills, but that The Miracle Worker is merely an essay on interpersonal relations and that Gibson’s weakness for the inspirational dooms him to the second rank.

Hayes, Richard. “Images.” Commonwealth 71, no. 10 (December 4, 1959): 289. Argues that The Miracle Worker’s message of goodness is aesthetically irrelevant.

“A Hit at 10: The Miracle Worker.” Newsweek 54, no. 18 (November 2, 1959): 97. Representative of the many favorable reviews when the play opened on Broadway. Focuses on Annie Sullivan as the exemplary teacher and on the themes of love and discipline. Like many reviews, it expresses surprise that the play succeeds in spite of its first being written for television.

Kerr, Walter. “The Miracle Worker.” In The Theater in Spite of Itself. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1963. Discusses how The Miracle Worker succeeds in spite of some weaknesses.

Tynan, Kenneth. “Ireland Unvanquished.” The New Yorker 35, no. 37 (October 31, 1959): 131-136. Describes Gibson’s juxtaposition of laughter, combat, and pathos. Argues that the play affirms the dignity of the species.

“Who Is Stanislavsky?” Time 74, no. 25 (December 21, 1959): 46-52. Discusses the theatrical qualities of The Miracle Worker, especially the fight sequences, and examines the development of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller as characters in the play.

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Historical and Social Context