The Diary of Anne Frank

by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett

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What is the climax of The Diary of Anne Frank?

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The climax of the play The Diary of Anne Frank occurs when the Gestapo arrives at the annex to arrest the hiding Jews.

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The climax of the play The Diary of Anne Frank is at the very end when Anne and everyone else hiding in the annex are discovered and arrested. Immediately before this, Anne and Peter are having a philosophical conversation about their self-identities. Anne tells Peter,

"I’d never turn away from who I am. I couldn’t."

Anne and Peter are on one side of the stage, while on the other side are armed Nazis climbing up the stairs to round up the people hiding in the annex. The stage direction says that a dark figure appears at the foot of the staircase. It is a Nazi officer. He is followed by three other men. The first group they encounter are in the main room playing cards. The Nazis with their Dutch collaborators have their guns extended. Mr. Dussel is the first to see the men come in. He stands up from the card table, raises his hand in a gesture of surrender and drops the cards that he was holding.

The Nazis then hear Anne, Peter, and Margot, who are upstairs in the attic. The audience sees the three young people interacting playfully, while the Nazis climb the stairs up to the attic to arrest them. The stage is split to enable a double scene, which is striking in its stark comparison: the young people happy despite the terror they endure in the attic and the violent Nazis approaching to capture them.

At one point, Anne and the Nazi speak over one another. She is telling Peter and Margo that in spite of everything, she still believes that “people are truly good at heart.” At the same time, the approaching Nazis savagely shout for them to “RAUS!!!”

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The climax of a story occurs when the building tension has reached a tipping point. After the climax, tension is released through falling action, which ends in the story's conclusion. Throughout the play The Diary of Anne Frank, the characters live in constant fear that they will be discovered by the Gestapo. In addition to the fear of discovery, inter-personal tensions develop among those hiding in the secret annex as the tense and often desperate atmosphere takes its toll on them.

The climax can be said to occur in Act 1, Scene 5. As the families in the attic prepare to celebrate Hanukkah, an argument between Mr. Van Daan and Peter occurs over Peter's cat. Mr. Van Daan thinks that the cat is a liability, but Peter says that if the cat leaves, so will he. The argument is interrupted when they hear a noise coming from the offices below them. Although everyone tries to go silent, Peter falls off a chair and makes a huge noise. They hear the sound of frantic footsteps running away and the noise downstairs stops. Everyone assumes that they will be discovered now for sure. The whole group goes into a panic. Anne passes out from the stress of it all. Mr. Frank heads downstairs to investigate and comes back to report that it appears the noise was coming from a burglar. It appears that their hiding place has been discovered.

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The climax in a work of literature is its highest point of tension. In the play The Diary of Anne Frank, the tension revolves around whether the Franks, the Van Daans, and Mr. Dussel, all Jews, can escape death at the hands of the Nazis as they hide out in Amsterdam during World War II. The Nazis have occupied the Netherlands and have been rounding up the Jewish population to deport them to concentration camps as part of their final solution (genocide) of the Jewish people. As time goes on, however, and it becomes clearer the Germans will lose the war, the group becomes increasingly hopeful that they will ride out the war, though the tension and uncertainty never leaves them.

This group has been holed up in the attic annex for two years when ominous signs raise the tension level very high. First, the office beneath them, usually occupied, is empty for three days, with nobody coming to work. A phone then rings in the unoccupied office incessantly, with no one to answer, sending fear coursing through the hiding people. Finally, a car pulls up. The hideaways have been betrayed. The Gestapo arrives, banging on the annex door to arrest them.

After this frightening climax, the tension releases.

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The play The Diary of Anne Frank was written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hacket. It does a good job of establishing the serious mood of hiding from the Nazis for 25 months of Anne's young life. The conflict, then, is person vs. society as Anne's goal is to survive World War II without being sent to a Nazi concentration camp. Every event builds upon the question of if the Franks, the Van Daans, and Mr. Dussel will come off conquerors by not getting caught. They must walk around in socks, not use the bathroom, and not talk during the day while people work downstairs. They suffer hunger, fatigue, and bickering amongst themselves, but the climax centers around the families getting captured by the Nazis because it was their ultimate goal to avoid this. Therefore, the climax is when the Nazis show up, pound on the door, yell orders, and ultimately capture the families hiding in the secret annex.

Right before the Nazis enter the annex, Mr. Frank says, "For the past two years we have lived in fear. Now we can live in hope" (Act IV). Anne writes one last passage in her diary, as follows:

"And so 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 of whatever it will hold of clothing. Nothing else. So, dear Diary, that means I must leave you behind. Goodbye for a while" (Act V).

The resolution to the play comes in Act V as Mr. Frank, Miep, and Mr. Kraler remember their time in the secret annex and those they have lost in the Nazi concentration camps. Of course the play ends with Anne's voice saying, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart."

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