Critical Summary

Worth Jenifer discusses the first and second installments of Marjane Satrapi's novel Persepolis.

The two novels are unconventional solo performances that can be read as an articulated solo performance that Satrapi would otherwise deny.

Satrapis' Comic Relief and Social Change

Satrapi provides comic light relief when juxtaposing the macabre imagery of revolt and conflict that characterizes the majority of her life in Iran. All events in Satrapi's life are related to the social and political change that occurred in Iran when she was a teenager. Morality, faith, and politics were also influenced by political and social change (Worth 144).

Identity, Sexuality, and Visibility in Satrapi's Novels

The Satrapis were able to deal with issues of identity, sexuality, and visibility issues in both her novels. The paper is a critique of Worth's article on the novel, Persepolis.

Satrapi's Confused Identity

The stories show the confused identity that Satrapi had in her life. She considered herself lacking identity during her adolescent years in Austria. As such, she perceived herself to be a Westerner in Iran and an Iranian in the west. Concurrently, Satrapi does not disabuse the importance of personal identity within herself. She uses the novel to put forth the main grievances about the perception that the westerners have towards the Iranians as fundamentalists and terrorists. She eloquently dispels the fallacies of the observers from the west concerning the multifaceted culture of the Iranians. The main issue brought out by the Satrapi is identity, which constitutes herself, her family, and that of Iran's or the west. I her review of Satrapi's novel, Worth brings out important aspects of the novel.

Persepolis as a Lost City and Identity Struggles

First Persepolis is the capital city of Persia. It is considered a lost city consisting of a Muslim nation that lives in the western invention. In the article "Unveiling: Persepolis as Embodied Performance," Worth factually points out that Satrapi's work recounts the challenges that she faces when trying to resolve cases of identity when she was caught up in two worlds. Satrapi's work, as opposed to giving information about one's identity and a recount of memories that a female Iranian can have while in their stay in America. Many troubling things happened around Satrapi. For instance, the ideological revolutions and wars that were cynically backed by the western governments came into play. Also, the neighbors' homes were destroyed during the daily bombs, and his uncles were executed for political reasons. However, the most outstanding aspect of Satrapi's novel and her stay in Persepolis, according to Worth, is her pursuit and struggle to find her identity and to be able to define herself. Worth is right to highlight this fact through her article. As in the novel, Satrapi is a self-fashioned protagonist that contends with isolation both abroad and in her homeland, which usually accompanied the westernized Iranians who at the same time were not welcome in Europe (Worth 156). She was rendered a stranger in her homeland because of her tastes and continental philosophies. Also, Satrapi had to negotiate between personal integrity, fear of rejection, sexual desires, adolescence rebellion, and parental authority.

The Empowering Nature of Persepolis

Worth (54) notes that the novel has successfully and safely given women access to the public, a privilege they have been traditionally denied. Women in both western and eastern have been traditionally denied an outlet into the public sphere. However, the graphic novel gives a foreground, which allows women to be heard, as well as gives an opportunity for a special resonance to the Iranian women, for instance, those like Satrapi who strongly object the adherence to Hijab. They strongly advocate for an ability to be seen. Even though Satrapi strongly wanted not to be forced to have the hijab on, she did not want it completely banned. She equally objected to a law that enforces the ban as it was a manifestation of religious belief. Her virulent criticism can be seen as a violent oppression that women go through when forced to put on the veil. Important to note is that despite her total objection towards the adherence of the Hijab she remained indelibly tied up to it. Satrapi's text internalizes the logic of the veil as is a simple of identity. It is both an image and an attempt to remake identity. Persepolis embodies Satrapi's political struggle by rendering the veil transparent. She has desires to liberate her homeland from the oppressions she perceives while at the same time she desires to uphold and honor the culture of the country.

Performance and Identity in Satrapi's Graphic Novel

Another significant point highlighted by Worth in the article is that immediacy of identity and performance are both registered in the body by the convergence of image and text in both reimaging and rewriting in the graphic novel as well as the maturation of the narrative. It portrays an interminable process of becoming. Satrapi chose to use liminal literacy. Liminal literacy form in the graphic novel has helped in ensuring that the digestion of the autobiography as a doubly marginalized text. The special form of the graphic text is less mainstreamed compared to its comic nature. Satrapi's main goal is to remain marginal and being at the margin fails to set her in any group (Worth 159). Her liminal identity in both context and form leads to the persistence of her ongoing struggle with identity in the face of pressure both from a global perspective and in a personal perspective. As such, she was able to produce a beautiful statement about identity in life.

Satrapi's Feminism and Subversiveness

Satrapi's life and identity from the book portray feminism and subversiveness. The book starts with Persepolis and ends with Marjane Satrapi's resilience. Satrapi refused to give up her sense of self even though she grew up with her mother and grandmother who have a strong Islamic influence. For instance, she would badmouth teachers when they forced her to recite the religious doctrines. She was able to bring out men as supporters of women, for instance, her father and the uncle supported education rights for women. As such, they were a political liberal. At the same time, she depicted Iranian men as much less favorable as they are perceived to be arrogant and threatening. Satrapi has two strong role models; however, there are unique distinguishable perceptions about both of them. Satrapi's use of graphic text also manages to bring out with clarity the fact that the Islamic state forced women to put on the veil as it asserts their culture and the Islamic religious law. The author intended to make it known that forcing women to put on hijab was not an extract from the Qur'an. Rather, it was a desire that is based on primitive desires to men wanting to control and possess women.

Performance and Presence in Graphic Novels

From the article, what one feels and their perception is what defines performance. The traditional novel is an outlet for women that have been denied public presence while the graphical novel uses self-portraiture to allow the presence of women to be let out both physically and vocally. Satrapi has successfully dealt with corporeal issues of identity, sexuality, and visibility. Formal liminality frequently echoes the liminality of the protagonists, and thus graphic novels occupy the middle ground between novels and theatre.

Work Cited

Worth, Jennifer. "Unveiling: Persepolis* as Embodied Performance." Theatre Research International 32.2 (2007): 143-160.

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