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How does Act II show both the degradation and the nobility of the human spirit?

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beastykid | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 27, 2013 at 1:38 PM via web

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How does Act II show both the degradation and the nobility of the human spirit?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 27, 2013 at 1:57 PM (Answer #1)

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The degradation of the human spirit in Act II of the drama comes at the hands of the Nazis.  The condition in which the families must live in the Secret Annexe is a part of this.  Constantly living in fear, worrying about each moment being the instant in which they are caught, as well as being able to live in such a small space with so many people are examples of how the human spirit was degraded through Nazi actions and laws.  The mere idea of having to hide in is where degradation is. When Mr. Frank says with the arrival of the Nazis that they can live life "in hope," it is a reflection of how degraded their lives have become under Nazi rule.

The nobility of the human spirit can be seen in how individuals in the Annexe refuse to take the form of the world around them.  The friendship between Peter and Anne is one such instant.  There is a greater solidarity shown between them at a time when solidarity between human beings was absent.  Additionally, Mr. Frank returning to find out what happened to members of his family is another example of the nobility of the human spirit.  At a point where so much of human existence was committed to severing bonds from one another, Mr. Frank's need to reestablish contact is a point of nobility in the human spirit.  Finally, Anne's closing words to her diary are the essence of nobility that can exist within human beings:  "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.’’  In this, one sees nobility present in a world where it is notably absent.

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