Mr. Dussel is the dentist who comes to live with the Franks and the Van Daans after they have been in hiding about two months. He is a neighbor of Miep’s boyfriend, and when the Nazis begin rounding up and deporting the Jews, he has nowhere to go. Originally supposed to stay only for a few days, Mr. Dussel remains in the attic until the Gestapo take everyone away.
In his fifties and set in his ways, Mr. Dussel is difficult to get along with. He refuses to adjust to the reality of so little space shared by so many people. He also stirs up worry, for example, by making everyone fearful that the thief will report them. He also makes his dislike of Anne clear. For instance, when Mr. Van Daan says in reaction to Anne’s nightmare screams, ‘‘I thought someone was murdering her,’’ Mr. Dussel answers, ‘‘Unfortunately, no.’’
Anne is thirteen years old when her family goes into hiding. She is a rambunctious, precocious, friendly, talkative girl. In the Franks’ life in Amsterdam, Anne had many friends at school, and now, lonely in the attic, she turns to her diary as the confidante with whom she can share her thoughts. She tells her diary about her family, her past, her feelings, and her hopes for the future.
Anne’s boisterousness and her determination to act as she feels and not as others believe she should pose a challenge; Mrs. Frank and the Van Daans think she should act more like a young lady, but Anne refuses to change her personality to their wishes. She rebels against societal restrictions and the values of an older generation. However, while Anne’s imagination, enthusiasm, and will cannot be subdued, at times, as when Anne makes Hanukkah presents for everyone, this quality is greatly appreciated.
Although carefree on the exterior, Anne has many serious concerns that she keeps hidden. She worries about her relationship with her mother and her inability to control herself, particularly with regard to acting hurtful toward others. Another major concern is her writing; she has decided that her goal in life is to become a famous writer, but she does not know if she will be able to write well enough to ‘‘go on living even after my death.’’ Anne also spends her time thinking about the events that have shaken the world. She knows about the concentration camps, but she still insists on believing that the world will be a better place someday. Her last words in the play are hopeful ones: ‘‘I think the world may be going through a phase, the way I was with Mother. It’ll pass, maybe not for hundreds of years, but some day…. I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are really good at heart.’’ Anne dies in the concentration camp when she is fifteen years old.
Mrs. Frank is a reserved woman, and she believes that her daughters should be the same way. Her lack of understanding regarding Anne’s personality makes it impossible for the two to share a sustained emotional connection; nevertheless, she is hurt by Anne’s continual rejection of her ideals and her affection. Mrs. Frank takes on the role of conciliator, trying to keep things calm in the attic; for example, she is willing that Anne should give up her one friend—Peter—to appease Mrs. Van Daan. Though she rarely argues—as Margot points out to Anne, ‘‘She can’t talk back.… It’s just not in her nature to fight back’’—the night she catches Mr. Van Daan stealing food is the last straw. She adamantly demands that Mr. Van Daan leave...
(The entire section is 1471 words.)