Marjane Satrapi Persepolis Feminist Perspective

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Marjane Satrapi articulates the times of turmoil in Iran in her autobiographical graphic novel Persepolis. The text conveys the experience of three different time periods over a short span of fifty years: the pre-Shah period, the Shah’s monarchy, and the Islamic Revolution that followed. Satrapi chooses to use the main female characters, her grandmother and mother, and the minor characters, her school teacher and servant Mehri, to reflect the societal and political changes made during these time periods. These figures Satrapi uses are defined through the symbol of the veil and the conversations Marji, as Satrapi calls her younger self, has with them. Satrapi chooses to present the graphic novel in black and white to mirror the anarchy in society…show more content…
Satrapi uses her grandmother to introduce the history of Iran to the readers, in which the use of black and white instead of colour reinforces the idea of a historical tale. Through recounts and flashbacks, Marji learns that “[her] grandfather was a prince” (Satrapi, 22), but “the Shah took everything [they] owned. [They] lived in poverty” (Satrapi, 26). For this reason, Marji’s grandmother has become a strong, resilient woman supporting her family against the Shah who made their lives miserable. The Islamic Revolution reminds her of the past as it splits the nation into two groups. This is shown in a diachotomic panel, visually showing the divide where one half of the panel shows people with closed eyes supporting it blindly while the other opposing the revolution with their eyes opened. As Marji’s grandmother is depressed to see history repeat itself, she mocks the lack of wisdom people have about the unfolding revolution. For example, when a widow is manipulated by others into blindly protesting “the king is the killer!”(Satrapi, 32) after her husband died of cancer, there is irony and scorn in Marji’s grandmother’s dialogue “When I die now at least I will be a martyr!!”(Satrapi, 32). Being the strong, resilient woman who “took in sewing and with leftover material, [she] made clothes for the whole family” (Satrapi, 27) to maintain them during the Shah’s reign,…show more content…
This is first introduced when her favourite author wrote “True but sad stories: Reza became a porter at the age of ten … Hassan, three year old, cleaned car windows” (Satrapi, 33). Gradually, Marji sees the privilege she has in the upper social class as she describes “I felt ashamed to sit in my father’s cadillac” (Satrapi, 33) when she recognizes that her situation is privileged by inequality in society where children have to work and serve people. She sees this enacted in her household as she is aware of the distinct education level between herself and her maid, Mehri, as “my mother had tried to teach her but apparently she was not very talented” (Satrapi, 35). Marji realizes that the opportunity to receive an education is her privilege and the crucial role social classes play in society. This is reinforced by Mehri’s impossible love with their neighbour’s son, Hossein, as he immediately cuts the contact between them after Mehri’s identity has been revealed. A panel zooms into Marji’s confused and frustrated face while asking “Is it [Mehri’s] fault that she was born where she was born?” (Satrapi, 37). Marji’s father explains to Marji that “[They] must stay within [their] own social class” (Satrapi, 37), while Marji calls her father a hypocrite when he does not support those in his own household. Through Mehri, Marji discovers the different social class relationship
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