Maybe living alone on an island doesn't sound so bad. You could hack it. You could hunt and fish and chill with Wilson.
But we know the real fear of isolation. We get that it's not the thought of being stuck on that island all alone. Oh no, it's being stuck there with your parents that tears you up inside. Throw in your Great Aunty Shmoo and your weirdo Uncle Oop and it's bound to have you begging for the white padded room. Now try only having these guys for company for two years. We'd be terrified too.
It's understandable, then, that Anne Frank's isolation is probably the most important theme in the play. The authors chose to focus on this aspect of the characters' situation because it's the driving force behind almost all the action that occurs. The extreme isolation the Annex crew experiences creates arguments, selfish behavior, and depression, but it also fosters a closeness and tolerance that the characters may not have ever been exposed to in their normal daily lives. As grumpy Mr. Dussel puts it, "I'm a man who's always lived alone. I haven't had to adjust myself to others. I hope you'll bear with me until I do" (1.3). Paradoxically, all the characters are alone—together.
That's not always a good think, though. (The thought of living in that tiny attic with seven other people totally creeps us out.) The playwrights focus on the amazing survival tactics the group had to employ to survive their situation. As an audience, we are left to think and explore how we would react. What would we do in this type of crisis? How would we survive?
Questions About Isolation
Does Anne's isolation help her focus on her roommates' more positive attributes or their negative ones? How can you tell?
Which of the characters deals with isolation the best? Which ones don't deal well at all?
What other themes are directly related to isolation in the play?
How do the stage directions and scenery help to support the theme of isolation in the play?
Do you think that Anne's insights come as a result of her isolation, or in spite of her isolation? Why do you think so?
Chew on This
Even though they have each other, the characters show us that true isolation means being shut off from general society.
Go, Daddy-o—Mr. Frank is the character who deals with isolation the best.