Script Analysis for the "Diary of Anne Frank" Play

by Michael Davidson

"The Diary of Anne Frank" is the title of both a play and film that tell the true story of Jewish teenager Anne Frank while she and her family were in hiding from Nazi forces in the Netherlands during World War II. Each was adapted from the book, "Diary of a Young Girl," which was an edited version of her diary that was written during the war. The play was written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and it opened in 1955.

Main Characters

The Frank family consisted of Anne, her father Otto, mother Edith and her older sister Margot. The family went into hiding with Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan and their only son Peter. An eighth man was added to the "secret annex" when dentist Mr. Dussell came to stay. Since the play is told mostly from Anne's perspective, the adults are referred to as "Mr." and "Mrs." and not by their first names in the script, except when they are talking to each other. Miep and Mr. Kraler assist in keeping the families nourished and hidden. Miep was a young woman who had worked for Mr. Frank prior to the Nazis coming to power while Kraler worked with Mr. Frank as well and took over his business once it became illegal for Frank to run his own company as a Jewish man.

The Beginning

The play opens with an older Otto Frank returning to the secret annex for the first time since the family's arrest. He is overcome by the thought of his family being slaughtered and Miep gives him Anne's diary, which he begins to read. The script goes back to three years earlier, where the Van Daan family is waiting for the Franks to arrive. They all agree to live in the small space together in hiding in an attempt to survive the German occupation. Otto gives Anne the diary on their first day in the annex. (She'd received it a month earlier in real life.) The families are often contentious with each other due to the cramped space with Anne feeling particularly alienated. Mr. Dussel is added suddenly to the annex when he was in danger of capture and had nowhere else to go. He and Anne have a combative relationship during his entire stay there as he is very arrogant and picky. Resources are scarce and Peter's cat disappears after his father complains about it taking food they could be eating.

Conclusion

The Van Daans have a very combative marriage but Mrs. Van Daan comes to her husband's defense when he is caught stealing rations, leaving less food for everyone else. Mrs. Frank wants him thrown out but cooler heads prevail and Mr. Van Daan is ashamed. Anne and Peter grow closer as time goes on and they start to develop romantic feelings for each other. Meanwhile, fear constantly arises that they will be captured. These fears are realized and Anne and Peter share a kiss before the German troops break down the door to the annex and drag everyone away. The play concludes with Otto Frank agonizing over the loss of his daughter while also marveling at her courage and grace.

Themes

The script examines many different themes. Anne is an adolescent girl who is undergoing physical and emotional changes while being unable to have any time or space to herself. Her diary becomes her sanctuary and acts as a confidante for her to explore these emotions, which is demonstrated in the play. The nature of survival and the sacrifices that were made for these eight people to live in relative harmony are also examined. The script also focuses on Anne's optimism in the human condition even when faced with the horrors of both war and discrimination.