Persepolis: A Female Bildungsroman?

First off, Persepolis 1 is a fantastic graphic novel, that is intriguing in both words and illustration. Marjane Satrapi definitely took a medium that is usually used for light stories, and told a story of growth as a young girl living during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Personally, I think that was a rather brilliant idea. It is not only engaging and fun to read as a reader, but I’m pretty sure it was fun and challenging as a writer and artist.

This story fits into various different genres such as Bildungsroman, Memoir, Political Commentary, Historical Non-fiction and most obviously, a graphic novel. With that said, we see the growth in Marji throughout the story as she is thrust to face the war during her childhood. More specifically, I really enjoyed reading the chapter, The Bicycle, as it was the chapter that really took us into the history of Iran as it was once apart of the Persian Empire. Through the artwork and the words she chose, Satrapi described to the reader the various ways the Persian Empire was invaded, and through her illustrated showed exactly what their characters were like.

From the very beginning of the novel, when wearing the veil was inflicted upon young girls and women, we got a sense of Marji’s idea of the world and the idea of freedom, and that is demonstrated in The Bicycle. She wants to be apart of the revolution, she wants to reads all of the literature she can to be well informed. She wants very badly to be an adult. This idea of being an adult is tied to her belief in God. God was present in the first few chapters of the graphic novel and in those chapters, she had a child-like mindset despite her interest in the revolution. When she banished God, she became more of a free thinker and acted out on this. She was interested in punk and wanted to listen to western music. The hold that the Islamic government had on the people of Iran that constantly killed people and imprisoned them, I feel gave Marji a negative taste in her mouth, and as God is the “center” of the Islamic government, she didn’t want to be apart of something that harms people for wanting to take advantage of their free will.



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