Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis introduces the Islamic veil as an attempt by the Iranian government to control women. Islamic radicals promised safety and security for those who abided by their rules. Rebels who refused to wear the headscarf were threatened with beating, rape or death. These modern women who fought against religious oppression met the minimal requirements of the government rules to safely live in the hostile environment. Through being forced to wear the veil, the control of the Islamic government drives its people to a rebellion.
The reformation of the country of Iran toward Islam caused turmoil among the people because the drastic changes forced on the people were not easily accepted. One of the major changes is that women were forced to wear veils as a religious requirement. A change in government toward a religion is difficult to overcome because not everyone agrees on the changes and many people want to keep things the way they are. This change to Islam is difficult for Marjane and the other children as she explains “We didn’t really like to wear the veil, especially since we didn’t understand why we had to” (3). Marjane’s family serves as an example that there are families in Iran who do not strictly follow the Islamic religion and do not understand why they are being forced to follow the government mandated rules. Although many people did not believe the government’s proposition that women’s hair excites men, they still had to wear the veil to live safely. Marjane claims, “I think that the reason we were so rebellious was that our generation had known secular schools” (98). Constantly struggling to make the transition to the religious schools was difficult for the children of Iran because they had already be.
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. es Marjane from a worried young girl with an innocent round face on the front of the book to an unveiled, rebellious young woman wearing all black and smoking a cigarette. The war taught Marjane to be tough, and showed by her not wearing a veil and a cigarette in hand to calm her nerves.
Persepolis shows the damages caused by a country at war through the forcing of religion on its people. Religious disagreements, death, stress and early maturity drives the people to uprisings. Satrapi shares her experiences so the hardships she experienced will be understood by those of other cultures and not have to be endured by others.
Naghibi, Nima, and Andrew O’Malley. "Estranging the Familiar: “East” and "West" in Satrapi's Persepolis." English Studies in Canada. 2005. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.
Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. New York: Pantheon, 2003. Print.
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The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi Essay - Gender Roles in Persepolis The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novel that depicts the life of Marjane Satrapri during the Iranian Revolution. Satrapi tells her story as a child growing up during the time of the many drastic changes forced upon women and the effects of the new laws made by the Shah. During this time people in Iran were banned from reading, or listening to music that was not approved by the regime. Schools were separated by gender and women were forced to wear veils to protect themselves from being molested or raped by men. [tags: iranian revolution, women's role, class]
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Marjane Satrapi is no ordinary young woman, she is a full-fledged princess. And not only a princess, but what some people might call a “Red princess”; born into a progressive family, she was reading cartoons about marxism when other children were reading fairy tales. Her maternal grand father was the son of Nasreddine Shah, the last Qadjar emperor of Iran.
Growing up, she was surrounded by relatives and family friends regularly thrown into jail for being communist. The unique child of intellectual parents, she was sent to Europe in the mid-1980s, at the age of 14, to be spared the oppression of an islamic regime then at its worst. Running away from the prejudices of the Iranian mullahs, she was faced with preconceived ideas held by Europeans on Iran and Islam. Her observations have resulted in a wonderful series of comic strips published under the name “Persepolis”, the first two volumes of which have sold more than 20.000 copies in their French version.
“I wanted to put a few things straight”, explains Marjane from her studio at Place des Vosges, one the oldest district of Paris. “When I arrived in France, I met many people who expected me to speak Arabic. So many Europeans do not know the difference between Arabs and Iranians. They don’t know anything of our centuries-old culture. They seem to think Iran has always been a country of religious fundamentalists, that Iranian women either have no place in our society or that they are hysterical black crows. In fact, Iranian women are not downtrodden weeds: my mother’s maid has kicked out her husband, and I myself slapped so many men who behaved inappropriately in the street. And even during the worst period of the Iranian Revolution, women were carrying weapons”, Marjane declares with conviction.
While no fan of the revolution or the current ruling regime, Marjane stresses that neither was she a supporter of the exiled Shah. “Many people in Europe venerate the Shah. I think he was a bastard. True, we had some luxury Hilton hotels and a few kilometers of highways, but when he left, half the Iranian population was illiterate and living in utter poverty, which was unacceptable in a country with so much oil”.
The Islamic revolution interpreted through the eyes of a 10-year old girl
What gives “Persepolis” credibility is the convincing way specific events are interpreted through the eyes of a 10-year old girl. For example, the young Marjane of the comic strip -- the heroine of these very autobiographical books -- explains how she did not know what to think about the veil when it became compulsory after the Revolution. Her cartoon portrays young girls in the school court yard sharing the same dilemma. Her drawings are simple but stylized and effective; they carry a message everybody understands and usually evoke a smile of pleasure. This is what gives her work its unique flavour, while they can be didactic and political, still, both the text and the drawings provide the reader with a wry pleasure.
How can Marjane Satrapi re-create with accuracy and authenticity the feelings and behaviour of the little girl she long ago ceased to be? “Don’t forget I left my parents when I was 14: I was in a foreign country, alone. I spent a lot of time thinking about what my parents used to tell me; I supposed I am immersed in my past”. Marjane Satrapi could never be considered “politically correct”, which is probably what makes her work so convincing: she is not another exile denigrating the Islamic Revolution and glorifying the Shah’s regime.
In the first volume of “Persepolis” she tells the story of her family and how they lived through the revolution which ousted the Shah -- not sparing her readers the pleasure of a few scathings drawings and gibes about the Shah’s father, Reza khan, an “illiterate petty officer” who wanted to set up a republic and was convinced by his British mentors to found an empire “so his minister would shine his shoes”.
Marjane’s schoolmistress tells her that the emperor was chosen by God, but her father tells the little girl that when he came to power, he confiscated all the belongings of her forefathers, the Qadjars. Her grandmother tells the small heroine of the comic strip how the family were so poor they had nothing to eat, but how in order that the neighnbors would not guess how bad things were, she would boil water to make them believe she was cookin.
Through her cartoons, the young heroine also introduces us to the champions of her childhood. The young Marjane overheard conversations between her parents about the torture in the Shah’s jails. Among all the heroes discussed, one fascinated the small girl more than any other: uncle Anouche, who was involved with Great Uncle Fereydoune in establishing the short-lived independent republic of (Iranian, pro-Soviet) Azerbaidjan in 1946.
None of her school friends could boast such heroes in their families. But only a few months after the Islamic revolution, a new wave of repression swept away all these militant heroes. Some chose exile, others were murdered, while Uncle Anouche, who always believed the situation would improve, was sent back to prison -- this time by the islamists -- and later executed as a “Russian spy”. The last person to visit Anouche in jail was Marjane, a tragically memorable experience for a 10-year old girl.
The second volume of Persepolisrecords details of Marjane’s life during Iran’s war with Iraq, which coincided with the harshest years of the Islamic Republic. The air raids, the refugees, the Bassijis (volunteers for the front), and the patrols of the pasdars, checking women were wearing the veil and searching homes for illegal cassettes and alcohol, all provide material for her work. During those troubled years, slowly but surely, the small Marjane becomes a teenager -- and a rebel. Her parents decide it will be safer to send her to Europe, to Austria, claiming they will follow her after a while. They did not.
Marjane became a lonely exile -- which, she says, she will discuss in the third volume of “Persepolis”. The subject of her fourth volume has been earmarked for her return home to Iran.
“How does one manage to live in exile. she asks rhetorically and answers herself, “To become integrated, one must forget entirely where one comes from. I had hard times -- my parents had no more money to support me. My friends at the French lycée in Vienna were rich kids; I could not stand their expressions when I told them I was Iranian: Ah. Khomeini, ah. the ayatollahs, the veil. I could read it in their faces. I even went as far as denying my nationality”, Marjane admits. “For a while I said that I was French but I was young and stupid”, she excuses herself. Today Marjane Satrapi is proudly Iranian -- and she can also be proud for having written and drawn a series of comic strips that reveal more about contemporary Iran than many academic books.
(The Middle East magazine, April 2002)
Marjane Satrapi is an Iranian born French author, graphic novelist, director, and illustrator. As a child, she attended the Lycée Français in Tehran where her family was involved with communist and leftist political groups partly responsible for the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Her graphic novel, Persepolis. is a memoir of her childhood growing up during the Revolution, the subsequent Islamic regime that took control of Iran after the Revolution, and the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980's.
In 1983, Satrapi was sent to Austria by her parents where she attended the Lycée Français de Vienne. She returned to Iran after graduating high school where she attended university. She received her diploma and then received a Masters degree in Visual Communication. At 21, Satrapi married an Iranian man, but the marriage lasted only three years. Satrapi has written about these events in her later life in the second installment of her graphic novel series, Persepolis 2 .
Satrapi became well known for her work through the publication of the Persepolis novels. First published in France, the novels were published in the United States in the early 2000's where they won numerous awards and much critical acclaim. Satrapi co-wrote and co-directed an animated film version of Persepolis which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007. In 2008, the film was nominated for an Academy Award. Satrapi continues her animation and film-making work at her home in France.
Study Guides on Works by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis was originally published in France where it won several awards and wide acclaim. In 2003, the novel was published by Random House in the United States. Persepolis is a graphic novel which tells the story of its author and her childhood.
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“I really didn’t know what to think about the veil. Deep down I was very religious but as a family we were very modern and avant-garde. I was born with religion. At the age of six I was already sure I was the last prophet. This was few years before the revolution.”
Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis: The story of a childhood
Growing up is an adventure. Age strengthens the need for personal opinions and values, and the desire to distinguish one’s self becomes greater. There are those who understand us, and those who exclude us. Many will choose to abide at a comfortable distance - not close enough for confrontation and yet succeeding in meeting the demands of objectivity. Usually, the stances remain subtle, but when driven by significant political, religious and intellectual movements, the lines become stronger and the reactions, harsher.
Based on her own personal experience of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Marjane Satrapi introduces us to the effects of cultural change through the eyes of a child. The graphic novel entitled, Persepolis. is a political, historical, and extremely personal account of a girl’s growth into maturity. There are a great range of emotions disseminated in this novel. The reader is sidelined by murky melancholic feelings of familiarity and disdain. Such is a tale of life. What period in one’s life is filled with more wonder than that of childhood? Born in Iran and educated at the Lycee Francais, Satrapi is the granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors. She depicts herself in the book as an extremely precocious child of Marxist parents, who educate her on the evils of the regime and stage their own rebellion at home by drinking wine and supplying their daughter with posters of Kim Wilde and Iron Maiden. It is this Western culture at home that brings our character to question the happenings around her. Why is the veil compulsory? Why are our neighbours missing? Why is it wrong to wear a denim jacket and Nikes?
Persepolis is an account of demands made without understanding of repercussions. A child can only see so far into the future, and even then, the tendency is for years to be skipped and hardships, overlooked. Even when a child knows facts about Palestine and Fidel Castro, and reads comics entitled ‘dialectic materialism’, intellectualism does not succeed to quell the experience of life itself - you have to suffer to understand, but you have to learn the hard way to understand how it feels. Satrapi, herself, learns this lesson in her adolescence.
In life, you’ll meet a lot of jerks. If they hurt you, tell yourself that it’s because they’re stupid. That will help keep you from reacting to their cruelty. Because there is nothing worse than bitterness and vengeance. always keep your dignity and be true to yourself.
Satrapi does an excellent job of defining various types of rebellion in our society. She explores the probable reasons, may they be fear or knowledge, and quite literally, illustrates the consequences. A teenager enacts rebellion by separating himself or herself from the general, and dives deeper into another extreme. Adults enact rebellion, by separating others from themselves.
One of Satrapi’s many strengths is how she shows us the prevalence of social censorship during unrest. It comes to a point where everyone is out there to protect themselves. To point the finger at others, and say, “No I am not like you, you are not like me.” How is a child supposed to understand the reasons and meaning of particular cultural symbols that define us? How does he or she deal with it when the clash that occurs when understanding sets in?
Persepolis is a very timely novel for today. As our society is continuingly putting up boundaries and constructing ideas of “ingroups and outgroups”, it is important to realize and understand the effects on the present. We may be fighting for the future, but are we looking ahead before looking to those beside us. Her book excludes no one and doesn’t place strong judgments on any particular group, though opinions are voiced. This is not a story of who was right, and who gained the most, or who suffered tragically. On the contrary, Persepolis is a novel of the importance of being aware of ourselves and understanding the consequences of change.