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The Diary of Anne Frank: Plot Summary And Character Analysis

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From 1939 to 1945, a great war known as World War II raged in Europe. A German man by the name of Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany and then the dictator of Germany, fighting to gain control of all of Europe and exterminate anyone whom he considered to not be an “Aryan” German, a member of the so-called “master race” he fabricated, which he believed to be superior to all other races in Europe. While this was happening, two Jewish families in Holland, the Franks and the Van Daans, were hiding in the attic of a building in Amsterdam from the Nazis, the Germans working under Hitler and his officials in government. The reason they were hiding was that the Nazis were persecuting Jews, separating them from the rest of society, sending them to concentration camps and work camps, working them to death, and killing them using poison gas if they still survived. To avoid this, the Franks and Van Daans hid in the attic, never coming out, and receiving help from those outside who were willing to help them. This “family” stayed in those attic rooms for about 3 years, and during that time, the relationships between them grew tense. In The Diary of Anne Frank, Acts I and II, the family comes to the Secret Annex, as the attic is referred to, and learns what they have to do while living in the Annex: stay completely silent while there are people below the attic working, and do their normal activities while there are no other people in the building. As the play unfolds, the close-quarters quality of the Annex causes those inside to go on edge, and as more events take place, the characters truly begin to show how the stay has affected them psychologically. At the middle and final parts of the play, they begin to suspect that someone is going to disclose their whereabouts, and at the end of the play, the Green Police, the Nazi police force, finds them and takes them to concentration camps, where all except Mr. Frank, the head of the Frank family, die. This story shows the tragic tale of a family during World War II and the Holocaust and shows how cruel the Nazis really were.

Between the two acts of The Diary of Anne Frank, the plot, or set of events in a story, changes. This is because in Act I, the tension continues to rise gradually as each scene passes by, whereas in Act II, the tension rises it until reaches its apex, at which point the tension abruptly stops to end the story. For example, the dialogue in Act I starts off as clear statements such as this—“While the men are in the building below, we must have complete quiet. Every sound can be heard down there, not only in the workrooms, but in the offices too,” which is stated by Mr. Frank and which refers to how during the day, everyone in the Secret Annex must stay quiet so as to not reveal that people are living in the attic rooms—and turns into nervous exchanges such as this—“Someone knows we’re [in the Annex], yes. But who is this someone? A thief! A thief! . . . You think a thief is going to go to the Green Police and say, ‘I was robbing a place the other night and I heard a noise up over my head’? You think a thief is going to do that? . . . Yes, I think he will . . . You’re crazy! . . . Father, let’s get out of here! We can’t stay here now. Let’s go . . . Go! Where? . . . Yes, where?” in which Mrs. Van Daan, Dussel, Mrs. Van Daan, Anne, Mr. Van Daan, and Mrs. Frank speak, respectively, which occurs in Scene 5 of Act I, and in which the people in the Annex believe their cover has been blown, hence the short, nervous sentences. In Act II, however, the dialogue does show tensions rising, but they reach their peak near the end of the story and then briskly stop. For example, at the end of Act II, Scene 4, the Green Police, the Nazis’ police force, find the Annex and try to get in to take the family. It is when this happens that Anne tells the peak and end of the tension when she says, “[S]o it seems our stay here is over. They are waiting for us now. They’ve allowed us five minutes to get our things. We can each take a bag and whatever it can hold of clothing. Nothing else. So, dear diary, this means I must leave you behind. Good-bye for a while. P.S. Please, please, Miep, or Mr. Kraler, or anyone else, if you should find this diary, will you please keep it safe for me, because someday I hope…” and then it ends. Therefore, the plot changes throughout the play from Act I to Act II because in Act I, the tension but increases throughout the act, whereas in Act II, the tension rises until it reaches its highest point and then abruptly stops.

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One character, Mr. Frank, has similarities in both Acts I and II. One example is that in both acts, Mr. Frank is the person to try to calm the people in the Annex when tensions arise and to try to keep the family united when divisions come about. For example, in Act I, Scene 5, after the people in the Annex hear a sound below them in the offices, possibly caused by a person, which makes them very tense and scared and which makes some of them want to move somewhere else, Mr. Frank says, “Have we lost all faith? All courage? A moment ago we thought that [the Nazi police had] come for us. We were sure it was the end. But it wasn’t the end. We’re alive, safe,” and then all in the Annex calm down and proceed to sing the song of Hanukkah, showing that Mr. Frank tries to calm those in the Annex when tensions arise. Similarly, in Act II, Scene 3, after the people in the Annex discover that Mr. Van Daan had been eating the little amount of food that there was and after Mrs. Frank loses all self-control and demands that Mr. Van Daan leave the Annex, Mr. Frank says, “For two long years we have lived here, side by side. We have respected each other’s rights . . . we have managed to live in peace. Are we going to throw it all away? I know this will never happen again, will it, Mr. Van Daan?”, which shows that Mr. Frank always tried to keep the family united when divisions came about. Therefore, Mr. Frank is similar in both Acts I and II because he, in both acts, tried to calm everyone in the Annex down and tried to keep the family united when tensions arose and divisions came about.

Mr. Frank also has a difference between Acts I and II. That difference is that in Act I, he is able to endure the tension arising in the family without the tension affecting him, whereas in Act II, he begins to show that the tension is in fact starting to affect him. For example, in Act I, Scene 5, after the family heard the intruder and became hysterical, Mr. Frank says, “Have we lost all faith? All courage? A moment ago we thought they’d come for us. We were sure it was the end. But it wasn’t the end. We’re alive, safe,” showing that the tension had not at this point begun to affect him and he still was able to try to keep the family calm in the face of tension. In Act II, Scene 3, however, when the family discovered that Mr. Van Daan had been stealing the little food there was left and when Mrs. Frank lost all restraint and began to verbally attack Mr. Van Daan, Mr. Frank says, “Edith, I’ve never seen you like this before. I don’t know you,” and says, “Edith!” every time Mrs. Frank attacks Mr. Van Daan, showing that the tension, especially what the tension is doing to the others, is in fact affecting Mr. Frank. In summary, Mr. Frank changes between Acts I and II because as the story progresses between Acts I and II, the tension arising between the members of the family is in fact starting to affect him, despite the fact that in the earlier parts of the story, the tension seems to not be having an effect on him.

The Diary of Anne Frank, Acts I and II is a play that revolves around the Franks and the Van Dans, two German Jewish families in Holland hiding from the Nazis during World War II. The plot changes between Acts I and II because the tension in the story only rises in Act I, whereas the tension rises in Act II until it reaches its apex, after which it quickly relieves itself until the story abruptly stops shortly afterward. Mr. Frank, a character in the play, has both similarities and differences between his selves of both acts. He is similar in both acts because when tensions arose between the characters in the story, Mr. Frank tried to relieve the tension as best he could. He is different between both acts because in Act I, the tension between the characters does not have a visible effect on Mr. Frank, whereas in Act II, the tension does seem to have an effect on him. This story shows the dramatic and ultimately heartrending tale of two families during the Holocaust, and is a great showing of how this great tragedy of the human race affected the lives of individual people.

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The Diary of Anne Frank: Plot Summary And Character Analysis. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 2, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-diary-of-anne-frank-plot-summary-and-character-analysis/
“The Diary of Anne Frank: Plot Summary And Character Analysis.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-diary-of-anne-frank-plot-summary-and-character-analysis/
The Diary of Anne Frank: Plot Summary And Character Analysis. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-diary-of-anne-frank-plot-summary-and-character-analysis/> [Accessed 2 Oct. 2022].
The Diary of Anne Frank: Plot Summary And Character Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 17 [cited 2022 Oct 2]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-diary-of-anne-frank-plot-summary-and-character-analysis/
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