The Play of Contraries in Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis”


Persepolis, a graphic memoir in two volumes by Iranian writer, filmmaker and graphic artist Marjane Satrapi, is the most subversive of contemporary memoirs that defy easy categorization. Unlike other Iranian memoirs riding the wave of popularity following the Islamic Revolution, it stands out as a unique mix of the contraries. The proposed paper examines the ways in which the graphic novel reconciles the seemingly opposite ideas of the popular and the literary, the comic and the serious, the East and the West. Comic, presumably a naive form of literature meant for the amusement of children has been yoked to the serious purpose of asserting the identity of Persian people. In addition, it exposes and mocks the dominant religious narrative of the theocratic Islamic regime aptly represented by its black- and-white graphic images. Persepolis I makes use of a child narrator to recount the events following the establishment of the Islamic Republic. It allows the reader a fresh perspective and brings out the absurdity of the regime’s decrees. For example, it undermines the veiling ordinance of 1980 by showing young schoolgirls using their headscarves in other ways that are contrary to their supposed purpose to guard female modesty. Persepolis II deals with Satrapi’s stay in Austria and her return to Iran. Again, her experience in Austria belies the notion of a “liberal progressive” West. Persepolis is rich and multi-layered and draws its strength from its play of contraries. Its slippages speak volumes about the complex political situation of post-revolutionary Iran.

Author Information
Navdeep Kahol, Government College Dera Bassi, India

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2023
Stream: Literature/Literary Studies

This paper is part of the ACAH2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Kahol N. (2023) The Play of Contraries in Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis” ISSN: 2186-229X – The Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities 2023 Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon