Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Drama, Revised Edition)
The Diary of Anne Frank receives its power from several sources. It is similar to a Bildungsroman, the poignant vision of a young woman’s coming of age, though in a place where her life is threatened. Anne understands her plight but still hopes for a future when the war is over, when she will be able to develop her talents, study art in Paris, fall in love, and have children. She confides to her diary that she longs for fame, to be always remembered. There is irony in this wish. Though she will die a short time later, in the misery of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, she is destined to become one of the most famous women who ever lived.
The values of friendship and loyalty are celebrated in the play. Two Gentiles, Miep and Mr. Kraler, assist those hidden in the annex, despite the hazards to themselves. In a sad world, these loyal people maintain a humane bond across economic and ethnic lines. Anne also lovingly remembers her friends on the outside and listens attentively when Miep brings any news of this now forbidden arena.
Although the chief action of the play takes place in wartime and all but one of its characters will not survive, the final mood is not despair. Anne’s last disembodied words, affirming the goodness of humanity, are a quote from her real-life diary, though they are rendered out of context. They became the motto of the Anne Frank Foundation, which now operates in many nations to promote peace and...
(The entire section is 455 words.)
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