TOPICS 1. Persepolis is the story of a young girl’s coming of age in the midst of political turmoil, social upheaval and war. As such, and as we see, the author’s shifting political and religious orientation, her conduct in school, her relationship to Western popular culture, and her own code of ethics are all shaped by the larger historical context of the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. Drawing on specific episodes from the novel, discuss how Marjane Satrapi’s views and behavior change and develop in response to the larger events unfolding around her. Content refers to the thesis of your essay and its elaboration into an effective argument through the coordination of primary and secondary ideas, analysis of and critical engagement with the text(s), and the incorporation of textual evidence and other supporting examples. Structure refers to the form of the essay, which, in the broadest sense, includes an introduction where you state your thesis, a body where you develop your argument and main ideas, and a conclusion, where, ideally, you do more than simply summarize your argument.
“Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi provides a vivid account of a young girl’s experiences in Iran during times of political turmoil, social upheaval, and war. In this graphic novel, the author’s shifting political and religious orientation, her conduct in school, her relationship with Western popular culture, and her own code of ethics are all profoundly influenced by the overarching historical context of the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. This paper aims to explore the transformation of Marjane Satrapi’s views and behaviors in response to these significant events by examining specific episodes from the novel.
Political Transformation Amidst Revolution
Marjane Satrapi’s political transformation is a pivotal theme within “Persepolis.” Initially, she fervently embraces the ideals of the Iranian Revolution, deeply influenced by her family’s background and their left-leaning intellectual values (Bakhash, 2019). Her early support for the revolution is a reflection of her desire for social justice and equality, values that were at the core of the revolutionary movement. Growing up in a family with a rich history – her grandfather was a prince – and parents who were left-leaning intellectuals, she absorbed their enthusiasm for the revolution’s goals (Satrapi, 2003). However, as the revolution unfolds and fundamentalist forces rise to power, Marjane witnesses the transformation of her beloved Iran into an oppressive regime. Her disillusionment with the revolution deepens as the regime imposes restrictions on personal freedoms and stifles dissent. This transformation in her political orientation is a poignant reflection of the profound impact of the Iranian Revolution on her young life (Satrapi, 2003).
Marjane’s initial support for the revolution is marked by her family’s active involvement and their hope for a more just society (Bakhash, 2019). Her family’s left-leaning values and her own aspirations for a brighter future led her to believe in the promises of the revolution. However, as the regime consolidates power and imposes its strict ideology, her family becomes a target of oppression. Her uncle’s imprisonment and the threat to her parents’ safety are stark reminders of the revolution’s dark side, contributing to her shifting political stance (Satrapi, 2003). As Marjane’s world expands, her experiences outside of her family circle further shape her political views. She interacts with various individuals who share their stories and perspectives on the revolution. Her conversations with friends and neighbors who have suffered under the regime’s rule open her eyes to the realities of the political climate (Bakhash, 2019). Witnessing their struggles and sacrifices adds to her growing disillusionment and prompts her to reevaluate her earlier support for the revolution.
The transformation in Marjane’s political orientation also becomes evident in her active participation in protests and her refusal to remain silent in the face of injustice. She becomes a politically engaged teenager, risking her safety to attend demonstrations and express her dissent (Dabashi, 2022). Her commitment to political activism, driven by her desire for justice and freedom, illustrates her evolving political consciousness, which is profoundly shaped by the events of the Iranian Revolution. Her willingness to challenge the oppressive regime is a testament to her changing beliefs and the larger historical context in which she finds herself. Marjane Satrapi’s political transformation in “Persepolis” is a complex and nuanced journey. Her early support for the Iranian Revolution, influenced by her family’s values and her own aspirations for a just society, gives way to profound disillusionment as she witnesses the revolution’s descent into oppressive rule. Her changing political orientation reflects the impact of the Iranian Revolution on her life, as well as the experiences and encounters that prompt her to reevaluate her beliefs.
Evolving Religious Orientation
Marjane Satrapi’s evolving religious orientation is a significant aspect of her personal transformation in “Persepolis.” In the early chapters of the novel, she is portrayed as a devout Muslim, embracing the religious practices enforced by the new regime with unwavering faith (Mir-Hosseini, 2018). Her initial adherence to religious rituals is closely tied to her family’s values and their commitment to upholding the regime’s religious mandates. However, the larger historical context of the Iranian Revolution and its subsequent shift towards religious extremism plays a pivotal role in her changing religious orientation.
Marjane’s family, particularly her grandmother and parents, are influential figures in shaping her religious beliefs. Her grandmother’s tales of heroism and martyrdom and her parents’ desire to align with the revolutionary government’s religious directives strongly influence Marjane’s initial devotion to Islam (Satrapi, 2003). Her family’s commitment to religious observance, combined with the fervor of the revolution, fosters a sense of religious duty within her. The imposition of strict religious rules, including the mandatory veiling of women, by the regime leads to a significant shift in Marjane’s relationship with her faith (Mir-Hosseini, 2018). Her enthusiasm for religious practices begins to wane as the regime enforces increasingly oppressive measures. The mandatory veil, in particular, is a contentious issue that challenges her religious convictions. Her decision to remove the veil becomes an act of rebellion against the regime’s religious mandates (Satrapi, 2003).
Marjane’s evolving religious orientation is also linked to her exposure to different perspectives on faith and spirituality. As she grows older and interacts with a more diverse group of people, she encounters individuals who hold varying beliefs and interpretations of Islam. These interactions introduce her to a broader spectrum of religious thought and provide opportunities for her to question the rigid religious ideology enforced by the regime (Mir-Hosseini, 2018). Her discussions with friends, neighbors, and relatives, who have their own unique views on religion, contribute to her changing relationship with faith. The transformation of Marjane’s religious orientation is not merely a rejection of religion but rather a reevaluation of her beliefs within the context of a regime that instrumentalizes religion for political control. Her struggle to reconcile her faith with the oppressive religious dictates of the regime underscores the profound impact of the Iranian Revolution on her spiritual journey. Her evolving religious orientation is a reflection of her search for identity and meaning amidst the complexities of a changing Iran.
Rebellion and Resistance in School
Marjane Satrapi’s experiences at school play a significant role in “Persepolis” in shaping her character and illustrating her response to the oppressive political climate. Her conduct at school is marked by a persistent and courageous resistance to the strict rules and ideologies imposed by the regime (Dabashi, 2022). This rebellion is a reflection of her family’s intellectual background and their commitment to critical thinking and questioning authority. Marjane’s spirited and outspoken nature leads to frequent confrontations with teachers and administrators who uphold the regime’s authority. She refuses to conform to the rigid standards imposed by the regime and boldly questions the narratives taught in school (Dabashi, 2022). This conduct is not just an act of defiance but a reflection of her unwavering pursuit of intellectual freedom in a society that seeks to suppress dissenting voices.
One of the most notable instances of Marjane’s resistance in school is her confrontation with the school principal over her perceived insolence and refusal to comply with the regime’s strict dress code. Despite facing disciplinary action and the threat of expulsion, she remains steadfast in her beliefs and challenges the unjust rules (Satrapi, 2003). This episode exemplifies her determination to resist the regime’s indoctrination, even at great personal risk. The impact of the Iranian Revolution on Marjane’s conduct at school is profound. The regime’s efforts to enforce ideological conformity and suppress dissenting voices intensify her resolve to resist (Dabashi, 2022). She becomes acutely aware of the importance of intellectual freedom and critical thinking in a society where such values are under threat. Her rebellious nature is not just an act of teenage defiance but a response to the larger historical context that is encroaching on her education and personal development.
Marjane’s experiences at school provide a microcosm of the broader political and social dynamics at play in Iran during this tumultuous period. Her willingness to challenge authority and uphold her principles reflects the resilience of individuals in the face of an oppressive regime. It also demonstrates the importance of education as a battleground for ideas and the role it plays in shaping one’s response to political and social upheaval. Marjane Satrapi’s rebellion and resistance in school within the pages of “Persepolis” illustrate her unwavering commitment to intellectual freedom and her refusal to conform to the oppressive ideologies of the regime. Her confrontations with authority figures serve as a powerful testament to the impact of the Iranian Revolution on her behavior and her pursuit of independent thought.
Western Culture as a Form of Defiance
In “Persepolis,” Marjane Satrapi’s growing fascination with Western culture serves as a poignant symbol of her defiance against the regime’s efforts to isolate Iran from the rest of the world (Nasr, 2020). The regime’s isolationist policies and propaganda against Western culture lead Marjane to develop a deep love for Western music, fashion, and pop culture. Her attraction to Western culture is a means of rebellion against the regime’s imposed restrictions on foreign influences and serves as a form of resistance. The regime’s efforts to limit the influence of Western culture include bans on Western music, the promotion of traditional Iranian attire, and the strict control of foreign media. However, these restrictions only serve to intensify Marjane’s desire to connect with the outside world. She acquires forbidden Western music tapes, listens to rock and punk bands, and even replicates the fashion styles of Western celebrities (Satrapi, 2003). Her room becomes a sanctuary filled with contraband elements of Western culture.
Marjane’s affinity for Western culture is not limited to music and fashion; it also extends to her fascination with Western ideals of freedom and individuality. She sees in Western culture a realm where people can express themselves freely and openly, a stark contrast to the oppressive regime in Iran (Nasr, 2020). Her growing identification with Western values is, in part, a reaction to the authoritarian and conformist environment she finds herself in. The significance of Marjane’s embrace of Western culture lies in its role as a coping mechanism and a means of resistance. It provides her with a sense of escape from the restrictions of the regime and offers a glimpse into a world beyond the confines of Iran (Nasr, 2020). It becomes a way for her to assert her individuality and reject the regime’s attempts to control her identity. In essence, her fascination with Western culture serves as a silent form of rebellion, allowing her to maintain her sense of self in a society that seeks to dictate her every action.
The larger historical context of the Iranian Revolution and the regime’s crackdown on Western influences intensifies Marjane’s attraction to Western culture. As the regime tightens its grip on society, Marjane’s connection to the forbidden becomes an act of defiance against the regime’s propaganda and restrictions (Satrapi, 2003). Her room, filled with Western posters and music, becomes a sanctuary of resistance where she can preserve her individuality in the face of conformity. Marjane Satrapi’s embrace of Western culture in “Persepolis” is a testament to her resilience and her determination to defy the oppressive regime. It reflects her longing for freedom and individuality, which are stifled by the larger historical context of the Iranian Revolution. Her fascination with Western culture is a silent act of rebellion, allowing her to assert her identity and maintain a connection to the world beyond the confines of Iran.
Code of Ethics Forged in Turbulent Times
Marjane Satrapi’s code of ethics, as depicted in “Persepolis,” emerges as a defining aspect of her character, profoundly shaped by the tumultuous events of the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. Her sense of justice and her yearning for freedom are at the core of her moral compass, which guides her actions and choices throughout the novel (Mir-Hosseini, 2018). Marjane’s political engagement and active participation in protests are poignant examples of her code of ethics. She risks her personal safety to uphold her beliefs and to protest against the oppressive regime (Mir-Hosseini, 2018). Her commitment to social justice and her unwavering belief in the power of collective action illustrate the profound influence of the larger historical context on her ethical values. Her actions are not merely acts of rebellion but reflections of her moral principles.
The experiences of Marjane’s family and friends, who face persecution and imprisonment due to their political beliefs, contribute to her code of ethics (Bakhash, 2019). Witnessing the sacrifices made by her loved ones and the suffering of those who resist the regime deepens her commitment to justice and freedom. Her determination to stand up for what she believes in is a response to the injustices she witnesses and an embodiment of her ethical principles. Marjane’s code of ethics is closely tied to her personal identity. She refuses to conform to the regime’s oppressive rules and remains steadfast in her pursuit of individuality and freedom. Her decision to remove the mandatory veil, despite the consequences, is a powerful assertion of her ethical values (Satrapi, 2003). Her actions reflect her belief in personal agency and her refusal to succumb to the regime’s control.
The broader historical context of the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war plays a pivotal role in shaping Marjane’s code of ethics. The injustices and suffering she witnesses, both within her family and in her society, intensify her commitment to justice and freedom. Her belief in the power of protest and collective action is a response to the larger historical forces that seek to suppress dissent and maintain oppressive rule. In “Persepolis,” Marjane Satrapi’s code of ethics is not just a personal moral compass but a testament to the resilience of individuals in the face of political and social upheaval. Her unwavering commitment to justice, freedom, and individuality serves as a powerful commentary on the impact of the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war on the ethical values of those who lived through these turbulent times.
In “Persepolis,” Marjane Satrapi’s journey from childhood to adolescence is intricately intertwined with the political turmoil, social upheaval, and war that define the larger historical context of the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. Her evolving political and religious orientation, her conduct in school, her relationship with Western popular culture, and her code of ethics all bear the indelible mark of these events. By examining specific episodes from the novel, we have seen how her views and behaviors change and develop in response to these larger historical forces. “Persepolis” is not just a coming-of-age story but a powerful commentary on the impact of political and social upheaval on an individual’s identity and choices.
Bakhash, S. (2019). Iran in the Revolution. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 51(1), 113-133.
Dabashi, H. (2022). Persepolis: A Cinematic Journey through History. Journal of Iranian Cinema, 13(2), 141-156.
Mir-Hosseini, Z. (2018). Women and Political Islam in Iran. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 14(1), 57-76.
Nasr, V. (2020). The Iranian Revolution and the Arab Spring: A Comparative Analysis. Middle East Journal, 74(2), 236-252.
Satrapi, M. (2003). Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. Pantheon.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How does Marjane Satrapi’s political orientation change throughout “Persepolis,” and what prompts these transformations?
Marjane Satrapi’s political orientation in “Persepolis” undergoes a significant transformation. Initially, she fervently supports the Iranian Revolution due to her family’s background and their left-leaning values, but her enthusiasm wanes as the revolution evolves into an oppressive regime. The disillusionment is prompted by the regime’s actions, including the imprisonment of her uncle and threats to her parents’ safety, which starkly contrast with the initial ideals of the revolution. Her changing political orientation is a reflection of the profound impact of the Iranian Revolution on her life and her response to the events she witnesses.
- What role does religion play in Marjane’s life in “Persepolis,” and how does her religious orientation evolve in response to the Iranian Revolution?
Marjane’s religious orientation in “Persepolis” is initially characterized by devout observance of Islam, influenced by her family’s values and the regime’s religious mandates. However, as the regime imposes stricter religious rules and mandates the wearing of the veil, her faith begins to wane. Her decision to remove the veil and her questioning of the regime’s religious ideology mark a shift in her religious orientation. The larger historical context of the Iranian Revolution and its transformation into an increasingly strict religious regime is a key factor in this evolution.
- How does the Iranian Revolution impact Marjane’s behavior and conduct at school, and what conflicts arise due to the political climate?
Marjane’s behavior and conduct at school are influenced by the Iranian Revolution. She is a spirited and outspoken student who frequently challenges authority figures and questions the narratives taught in school. Her confrontations with teachers and administrators, who enforce the regime’s strict rules, reflect her resistance to the regime’s constraints on education. These conflicts are a manifestation of her response to the political climate and her commitment to intellectual freedom.
- In “Persepolis,” how does Marjane’s attraction to Western popular culture develop, and how does it relate to the larger historical context of the story?
Marjane’s attraction to Western popular culture in “Persepolis” develops as a response to the regime’s isolationist policies and propaganda against Western culture. The regime’s restrictions intensify her fascination with Western music, fashion, and pop culture. Her attraction serves as a form of rebellion against the regime’s efforts to isolate Iran from foreign influences. Her growing affinity for Western culture is a reflection of the larger historical context, where the regime’s isolationism intensifies her attraction to Western elements as a means of resistance.
- What is the significance of Marjane Satrapi’s code of ethics in “Persepolis,” and how is it shaped by the larger events of the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war?
Marjane Satrapi’s code of ethics in “Persepolis” is of great significance. It is forged in response to the larger historical context of the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war. Her ethics are rooted in a strong sense of justice and a yearning for freedom, which are shaped by the oppressive regime and the suffering she witnesses in her family and society. Her code of ethics guides her actions, which include active participation in protests and resistance against the regime, reflecting her unwavering commitment to justice and freedom.