The quarrelsome critic in the secret annex
Anne occasionally refers to Mrs. van Daan as Petronella or by the nickname Mrs. Beaverbrook. Since Anne portrays her almost consistently in a very bad light, it is difficult to get an unbiased impression of her character.
According to Anne, Mrs. van Daan is nagging, immodest and hypocritical:
Mrs. van Daan’s a fine one to talk! She sets an example all right—a bad one! She’s known to be exceedingly pushy, egotistical, cunning, calculating and perpetually dissatisfied. Add to that, vanity and coquettishness and there’s no question about it: she’s a thoroughly despicable person. (34%).
From the very first days, Anne and Mrs. van Daan do not get along well. Mrs. van Daan is bothered by Anne's continuous talking and Anne, in turn, finds Mrs. van Daan “unbearable” (11%) because she is always looking for a reason to complain.
Anne feels as if Mrs. van Daan is trying to educate not only her own son Peter, but also Margot and her: “Some people, like the van Daans, seem to take special delight not only in raising their own children but in helping others raise theirs.” (12%).
Anne recounts that many of her actions and words are criticized by the overbearing Mrs. van Daan. Although Anne is only thirteen years old at the beginning of the hiding period, she doesn't allow Mrs. van Daan have anything to say in the matter: “What a dope, don’t you think? In any case, let’s hope she stops talking about me.” (13%).
Every time there is an argument, Mrs. van Daan gets angry very quickly. Due to her opinionated nature, she doesn't tolerate contradiction and is very sensitive when someone makes fun of her: “Mrs. van D. wheeled around and gave me a tongue-lashing: hard, Germanic, mean and vulgar, exactly like some fat, red-faced fishwife.” (p. 51).
Because of her bold and confident manner, Mrs. Van Daan hardly ever becomes the object of discussion, but is often the one who incites it: “If you analyze the discussions, you realize she’s not the subject, but the guilty party! A fact everyone prefers to ignore. Even so, you could call her the instigator. Stirring up trouble, now that’s what Mrs. van Daan calls fun.” (13%).
Mrs. van Daan argues mostl...