Research Paper: Marjane Satrapi

Beset with the unthinkable, the Islamic Revolution defines turbulent times for many Iranians (Tehran). Numerous females including Satrapi were robbed of their social rights due to westernizing and secular efforts (Tehran). In turn, the Islamic Revolution undermined the younger Satrapi’s ability to come to terms with her own identity; nevertheless, she now writes to share her experience with oppression and her later journey towards cultural integration.

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It is a historical dispute that woman did not have their share of say in the revolutionaries’ political agenda (Mouri). In the months following the Revolution, obligatory hijabs were decreed (Mouri). Girls of every age rank were forced to wear a veil. Several active Iranian female revolutionists discharged into the street protesting what soon became the law of the land. Their male comrades did not offer support believing that the time was not appropriate. Instead, they simply encouraged solidarity with the new government in order to display a united front before their international enemies (Kar).

Consequently, wearing hijab became mandatory, and the lack of it was disciplinary (Kar). Satrapi was 10 at the time, experiencing her first instances of Iran’s social and political transformations. (Kutschera). The compulsory hijab eventually assumed a government-sponsored and aggressive position (Kar). Various female and liberal minded organizations were marginalized and stripped of their supremacy. The regime suppressed these crowds through methods such as coercion, enticements, deportation, and brutal force.

Years later, Satrapi was spared the oppression of an Islamic regime at the peak of its worst (Leith). Her lack of unwavering obedience and expressive nature would have caused her immense trouble with government. Thus, afraid she’d be a victim of the regime’s repression and prejudice, her parents sent her to Vienna (Kutschera). Unfortunately, she was challenged with preconceived notions held by Europeans (Leith).

While attending a boarding school ran by nuns, Marjane was expelled for calling the chief mother a prostitute when she claimed that Iranians were “uneducated” (Hattenstone). Marjane’s life eventually plummeted leading her to homelessness, bronchitis, and drug abuse (Hattenstone). Defeated, she escaped the havoc by  home, ultimately surrendering herself to the lifestyle she once rejected (Hattenstone).

Unfortunately, the hijab and restricted style options weren’t Satrapi’s mere concern. Upon her arrival home, Satrapi dealt with more prejudice than she had originally anticipated. She was known as the Western Iranian, which made her cultural transition in Iran especially difficult. Her later diagnosis with depression fostered even more mayhem within her life resulting in suicidal attempts. Her early 20’s were indeed tempestuous times as she struggled to establish and integrate herself into foreign customs. The end of the Islamic Revolution didn’t necessarily mean that the essence of corruption and repression were eradicated. In fact, the bitterness lingered for another 30 years shaping a void for many Iranian women. The marriage age for females was lowered to nine, and they lacked the rights to obtain divorce.

Meanwhile, their male counterparts were able to assume full custody of their children, obtain unilateral divorce, and have as many wives as they desired. In all, females received a lot of harsh treatment if they failed abide by the restrictive nature of Islamic rule. For a female foreigner like Satrapi, simply bearing a different style of clothing or thought was enough to galvanize unwanted attention. It was remarkably problematic having to assimilate into a culture she had to escape from in the first place. In the end, Satrapi realized that although Iran is her home, the social oppression outweighed that one factor. She eventually returned to Europe to pursue an art degree and take on the next chapter of her life, Persepolis.

Persepolis was written in efforts to share her experience regarding the Islamic regime. It is often a misconception that Iranians were religious fanatics versus being traditional, and for that, Satrapi wrote to bring light and understanding into the situation. She wanted to clarify that what people saw in the news didn’t bear the whole picture. Her other renowned writing projects such as Chickens and Plums and Persepolis II also entail political elements along with personal experiences. It is ultimately her way of preserving an evolutionary truth that could have succumbed had she not taken the time to share.

Consequently, Satrapi’s story is now one of the most popular books known for embodying a realistic coming of age story during the Islamic Revolution. She undertakes a realistic portrayal of how private life and public life can be drastically assailed by political upheaval.

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