english essay helen keller

english essay helen keller

The Life and Legacy of Helen Keller

1. Early Life and Challenges

In 1890, when Helen was just 10 years old, the family hired Annie Sullivan as a governess and teacher for Helen. Anne knew that Helen could learn and that she would need structure and discipline. Anne decided to separate Helen from her family for a short time, a difficult decision for the family. Helen was spoiled and violent. Anne is taking you to Boston—the moment of truth. You’ve got to get Helen under control. You’ve got to teach her to communicate. This was Anne’s moment. This was Helen’s moment. They have only two weeks to conquer the world, and we all felt as though we might never survive Helen’s tantrums. And then, on an April day in 1887, Anne and Helen managed a miracle. They understood each other, and Helen began her astonishing journey.

Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, a small rural town in Northwest Alabama. When she was 19 months old, a severe illness left her blind and profoundly deaf as well as unable to speak because she had not heard spoken language. This made young Helen greatly frustrated. So frustrated, in fact, that she frequently threw violent tantrums. As Helen is growing up, her world becomes increasingly dark and difficult. But then along comes a lively and defiant teacher Anne Mansfield Sullivan, who does not think that Helen was a hopeless case. She wants to teach Helen that everything that exists has a name. She took on the impossible challenge of educating a young, deaf, and blind child.

2. Education and Breakthroughs

The second major breakthrough came after Annie made a series of signs with her fingers spelling the word “water” descending it in a water pump. As she did this, Helen was able to make the connection that the movements Annie made with her fingers correlated with the water she felt on her hand. This realization came suddenly, and in an almost instant she grasped the concept of communication. Helen would later describe this event as “old dark being put under the shadow of great wings.” She was, using her words, “at once more to universe as I had known it,” the release of pressure she felt in her head was like the “spirit in her being released by the holy hands of Jesus.” Although there are some controversies about how truthful some of her memories about this event may be, her family being unsure if she felt the sudden realization of the signs and verbalized her thoughts later, we can confidently say that this was the second breakthrough she faced.

Partially because of their struggles, Annie Sullivan began educating Helen, the very following month, and right away, she began making great breakthroughs. For one, using the Tadoma method, which involves physically touching a person’s mouth while they talk, Annie began showing Helen how to read lips with her hands, as she held her hands in front of a speaker’s mouth. This would have been advantageous because spoken word was a significant form of communication to the Keller family, who communicated mostly through a sort of “home sign” that the family developed. This involved improvised gestures used similarly to American Sign Language. Helen later recalled this great breakthrough process fondly, stating that she remembered the first sentence she was able to recognize through this method was Annie saying “I need more doll” which she had trouble understanding because Helen had vocalized the word incorrectly.

3. Activism and Influence

Keller was outspoken in her opposition to war. Helen Keller was a world-renowned author, speaker, and visionary activist of her time. Helen deeply believed in the people, in their power to overcome their challenges, to change their lives, and the world in which they lived. Helen drew her inspiration from her personal experience and the values she learned in her youth. People with disabilities who have been abandoned by their families and society find a place in this House and begin a new life. The most important and remarkable achievement of this young woman is the dream and confidence in life that she transmits to Brazilian children with visual impairments. Hundreds of them, at some point in their lives, are invited to visit the House and leave it totally transformed. After all the difficulties they go through, they realize through Thaysa’s example that they are capable of achieving the goals they propose.

Helen was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. As Helen was seen as a blind woman, most of her original material is about or in relation to being blind. In her late years, people recognized her experiences as a deaf individual and she was offered to be Altruist’s president. Since Helen was the attraction of the media and she had so much attention, she could finally express her views and beliefs. One quote shown in Mr. Smith’s thesis was when Helen said, “I have fought and won from earth all the days of my years. If Helen Keller found a way to overcome insurmountable obstacles after 19 months of socialization, 16 months of Elvis, and long days of unresponsive atmosphere, there can be no one so impossible as his purpose that it cannot be overcome.”

4. Literary Works and Achievements

Keller received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and appointment to the National Advisory Committee of the National Institute for Handicapped Affairs. She was chosen by the Women’s National Committee of the Democratic Party to make the address nominating Adlai Stevenson for president, and she later received the Medallion Award from the same group in recognition of her “unique spirit of leadership” which “has frequently provided the fundamental core around which other leaders have built united action.” In 1960 she gave the keynote address at the Presidential nominating convention for Kennedy and chaired the International Conference in New Delhi where she proposed the United Nations need a Psychiatry/Criminal Research Tribunal and Dickensian Re-orientation so humanity may be helped in re-embracing the needs of all.

During her lifetime, Helen Keller was ranked among the 12 greatest living women, a tribute and testimony not only to her extraordinary strength of character but to the importance of her life as a chronicle of devotion, hospitality and love extended to children, women, working people and all afflicted people. Her life and spirit will live on in some of the most moving human testimonials ever written or spoken. She wrote 12 published books, many essays and articles, quite a few speeches and letters extant and numerous audio-taped lectures which were later transcribed and turned into essays. Let’s briefly mention and celebrate some of her literary works and personal achievements and accolades.

5. Legacy and Impact

As with so many others, I also feel positively influenced by my relationship with Helen Keller. I think of Helen Keller as someone who was kind enough to include me in her world and made my education more than I thought it would be. Society estimates not only how much we travel for personal reasons but also how much we are learning in the process. I discovered Helen. I realized that I should not accept what others think of me but should develop my personal capabilities to attract others as Helen has done through dedication, hard work, and self-confidence. With Helen as my first mentor, this thought is a model that has been in my mind and a song in my heart. When asked now many years ago what allowed me to achieve success without knowing my visual or auditory losses, my short reply was that Helen Keller did it.

Helen Keller’s name is known throughout the world because of her effect on human society. The great achievements she made during her lifetime have allowed millions of people with disabilities to become more visible in and accepted by the societies they live in. The Helen Keller legacy not only impacts millions of visually impaired people but also impacts anyone from any walk of life who is looking for inspiration and hope. As the story continues to be published and visualized, so does its powerful influence. Helen’s words and actions have uplifted and soothed countless hearts worldwide. Although millions of Americans support their favorite athletes, TV, music, and film personalities, and would be happy to meet and get an autograph from them, there are also millions of people who dream of meeting the deaf and blind Helen Keller because her life and memory represent hope. While they may know that their dream will never come true, telling them about Helen revives and gives them more hope. Keller’s life story has had a significant, positive impact on countless hearts and minds in America and around the world. Her positive legacy and influence continue to enrich our world.

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