Figurative Language in Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl

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  • 0:04 Context of the Book
  • 0:48 Literary Terms
  • 3:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Anne Frank is precocious in her ability to write, and her use of many types of figurative language illustrates this. In this lesson, we'll learn about various types of figurative language is used by Anne Frank when writing her diary, which was later published as ''The Diary of a Young Girl.''

Context of the Book

Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl was not intended to be a novel; it is more accurately the journal of a girl from about 13-15 years of age. What's unique about her story is that, at this particular time in her life, she was hiding in an attic with seven other people who all feared for their lives. Anne Frank just happened to be Jewish and living under Nazi occupation.

There are moments that Anne reveals the typical adolescent struggle of wanting to maintain the playfulness of a child while being treated as an adult. However, her writing style and ability to articulate her emotions is reminiscent of a more mature, experienced writer. Anne's use of figurative language, or non-literal word choices, engage the reader through Anne's unique experience. Let's examine some of the figurative language from this novel.

Literary Terms

In this section, we will define some literary terms and look at some examples from the novel that demonstrate each term.

An allusion is a reference to a literary work or historical event. Anne's father is always trying to find something to keep Anne busy so that she doesn't irritate the other people who are hiding in the attic with them. He asks Mr. Kleiman, the man who is helping them hide, to bring a Christian Bible for Anne to read. Mr. Franke jokes that perhaps he will give it to her for 'St. Nicholas Day.' Anne writes, 'Jesus and Hanukkah don't exactly go together.' Anne doesn't explain who Jesus is or what 'St. Nicholas Day' or 'Hanukkah' are, but leaves it up to the reader to create meaning, making this an allusion.

Hyperbole is an exaggeration made for dramatic effect. When Dussel prays for 15 minutes every night, it seems much longer to Anne as she watches him crying and rocking. Anne writes, 'It goes on forever, and if I don't shut my eyes tight, my head starts to spin.' As fifteen minutes is not 'forever,' this is an example of hyperbole that indicates how slowly time seems to travel when Dussel is praying.

A metaphor is a direct comparison of two things that are not alike but share a similar trait. For example, Anne writes, 'The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere they can be alone, alone with the sky, nature and God.' The opportunity to commune with nature is compared to medicinal cures as both have the capacity to make someone who is ill, either in spirit or physical health, feel better.

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