Primary Source Analysis: Persepolis Argumentative Essay Samples
Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis presents the autobiography of regarding her experiences amidst war and revolution when she lived in Iran. Written in a comic book and humorous fashion, Persepolis deploys macabre imagery associated with the revolution with sardonic humor that offers some comic relief. Satrapi’s childhood experiences were profoundly shaped by the social and political transformations that were taking place in Iran. As such, Satrapi spent her adolescence living in Austria, while ultimately caused her struggles with her own identity because she viewed herself as “a westerner in Iran, an Iranian in the West” (Satrapi 274). Indeed, Satrapi’s personal story told in Persepolis unequivocally explore her personal struggles with her identity as an Iranian woman who lived in a foreign country. More poignantly, it is clear that Satrapi decries how the west perceive Iran, which is evident in its discursive framing of Iran predicated on the Orientalist paradigm articulated by cultural critic Edward Said. Indeed, it is unequivocal that Satrapi is disenchanted by how the West views and portrays Middle Eastern women as well as how the West has continued to circulate an image of Iran as barbaric, antiquated, and marred by terrorism and religious fundamentalism. As such, Satrapi proffer a cogent and intriguing narrative aimed at dispelling the litany of fallacies articulated by westerners. Rather, she underscores the nuances of Iranian culture and society. Identity unequivocally emerges as a tool through which Satrapi seeks to deconstruct the sophistry surrounding western misconceptions of Iran that have hitherto fortified the rigid divide—according to the Orientalism paradigm—between eastern and western cultures. Indeed, cultural meanings that undergird social identity, politics and religion are examined through Persepolis, an autobiographical account that reveals how certain social and cultural barriers persist in various literary works created by female authors since writing and literature within Iranian society remained an exclusive preserve for Western men to define and shape the contours of the representation of non-western cultures. The tensions that inhere the East/West dyad manifests in the persistent pattern of contradiction and paradox of the protagonist’s parents trying to keep her safe from external cruelties, yet they send her away to live in a foreign, western country where they lacked control over her.
Persepolis indeed signals a paradigm shift in the corpus of literature regarding Iranian society and culture and how western discourses and obscured and tainted the public image of Iran. Stereotypical and erroneous images of Iran in western discourses and narratives prompted Satrapi to deconstruct the obtrusive and pejorative images circulating in western discourses and expose how reductive western analysis has been regarding the nuance and multi-layered political and social contingencies in Iran. As such, Satrapi intended Persepolis to appeal primarily to western audiences. It retains a didactic function, although it is discernible that Satrapi’s geared the lessons gleaned from this work would impact readers on an idiosyncratic fashion depending on their social and cultural circumstance. As such, Satrapi penned Persepolis in an ambiguous yet tenable manner, which reveals how the comic book narrative retained a litany of purposes. Female identity in Persepolis is constructed upon an amalgam of factors that ultimately complicates the prevailing western image of Iranian women as well as Iranian society in general. This notion is evident when the narrator discusses how her parents embraced western music and western bands such as Pink Floyd and the Bee Gees. Moreover, Satrapi notes that she yearned for and embraced western sartorial fashions such as Nike shoes and jean jackets, only to be further evident in their political leanings based on Marxist theory (Satrapi 130). Thus, Persepolis aims at debunking fallacies regarding Iran in western discourses
Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. New York, NY: Pantheon, 2003. Print.