The Diary of Anne Frank
Tools of Characterization
Speech and Dialogue: Sarcasm
Anne enjoys using sarcasm to point out the ridiculous ways other members in the Secret Annex behave, such as when she refers to Mrs. van Daan as "Madame" or Mr. Dussel as "His Lordship."
Anne frequently employs the method of "telling" us about other characters. For example, although she consistently tells us that her mother is tactless and cold, we never actually see her behaving in a cold or tactless manner. In fact, ironically, the only time we catch a glimpse of her behavior is when she is responding with hurt to Anne’s coldness.
Anne provides a lot of detail about her fellow Annex members’ actions by which we easily can create a judgment on their characters. For example, Anne tells us about all of the annoying things Mr. Dussel does: hoards food, gives people the silent treatment, takes a quarter of the gravy during dinner, snores in the middle the night, and fails to thank the Franks and van Daans for taking him in. From this we can easily decide that Mr. Dussel is selfish and irritating without Anne even telling us so. Anne also uses actions to describe all of the other characters, leaving the reader with colorful images of most people she interacts with from her classmates to the Annex members.
Thoughts and Opinions
While most of the thoughts and opinions we learn are Anne’s personal ones, she does occasionally have entries in which she likes to list everyone’s opinions on certain subjects, such as politics. When she does this, we can compare different characters based on some concrete details. For example, Anne’s father is always thinking that the British invasion is just around the corner. Mr. van Daan disagrees and thinks the invasion won’t happen for a long time. Mrs. van Daan thinks the Germans might even win the war, so she’s definitely more of a pessimist. These glimpses into the Secret Annex crew members’ opinions give us a rare opportunity to see them somewhat less filtered through Anne’s biases.