Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi is an autobiographical account of a girl’s youth during the Iranian Revolution in 1969. As a graphic novel, Satrapi accompanies her text with images, drawn in a simplistic fashion in the comic book format. This is very effective in displaying her perception of Iran during the time of the revolution. The black-on-white drawings depict scenes of intense violence, emotion, and imagination. “Satrapi’s super-naïve style is powerful; it persuasively communicates confusion and horror through the eyes of a precocious preteen” (Press, www.villiagevoice.com/ books/0319.press.43844.10.html, 2) The seemingly child-like imagery that Satrapi used in drawing Persepolis serves as an effective tool to convey her powerful emotions and opinions with regard to the state of living that she endured during the Iranian Revolution.
Marji, as Satrapi refers to herself, is the daughter of two intellectual Marxists living in Tehran. She is blessed with many freedoms that other children her age lack. In the initial pages of Persepolis, she believes that she is the last prophet. One frame depicts her image of herself as this prophet, where the sun manes her head and people bow before her stature, proclaiming her the celestial light. This dreamy self-perception slowly dwindles away as the book progresses through its stages of war and tragedy. After the overthrow of the monarchy of Marji’s great-grandfather by the Shah Reza, Iran became the host of a slew of unjustifiable prejudices against women and non-supporters of the teachings of the Shah’s regime. All of the women of Iran were forced to wear veils, referred to as chador, to cover their hair, which was thought to be a tool of seduction. They were punished severely if they did not abide by the rules of the regime and many were beaten and imprisoned.
The Shah’s regime was maliciously unforgiving. In one scene, the soldiers under the Shah’s command set fire to a theater called the Rex Cinema with several innocent civilians inside. The doors were locked from the outside and guarded by the soldiers so that the onlookers could not release the victims. Satrapi’s imagery is particularly unique in this scene. She drew the frame to show the scene from within the building. Figures composed of flames rush out of their seats and for the doors, which they find to be locked. This method of drawing the victims as being completely covered in flames gives the scene an exaggerated sense of chaos, while maintaining a kind of childish perception of the event. This not only gives Marji’s perception of the story, told by her father, but keeps the material suitable for a young audience.
Marji’s naïve views and imagination are further displayed when her father tells her about her great-grandfather, the king. Marji finds it fascinating that her grandfather was a prince. Satrapi displays the images of her imagination in a particularly imaginative way. The frame...