Visual Rhetoric in Persepolis

Nils Tangemann Josh Holland English A SL C-Code Section: Part 3 Works read: Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. Pantheon. New York. 2003 Question: How and why is a social group represented in a particular way? The Display of Revolutionists in Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis In Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis there are several important social groups that all play a role towards creating the whole picture that describes little Marji’s everyday life in 1970s Iran. The nature of the revolution during that time created a huge divide between the different social groups.

This was dominated by different opinions that were expressed using violence, intimidation and other mental and physical threatening methods. Satrapi uses visual representation and plot devices in her graphic novel Persepolis to expose the hypocrisy of the Islamic revolution. First of all, the author displays all members of the army and Islamic revolutionary groups without any distinction from each other; they are one homogenous group. Secondly, a story about the corruptness of policemen and government officials is used to demonstrate how detached those people act towards their fake values that they preach to other people.

Lastly, the fact that the army is recruiting new soldiers through a method that is obviously aimed at non- or less-educated youth shows that the regime is scared of the higher educated population knowing that they will not have a chance in recruiting this social group because of their opposition. An aspect of the novel that comes to mind immediately when reading the text is Satrapi’s choice to display the members of the revolutionist Islamic regime in a different way than the family or friends of ten year old Marji.

While the individuals that are a direct part of Marji’s social life are displayed in great detail, the revolutionists are always shown in a more general fashion, therefore not distinguishing those characters. An example of this can be found in the chapter “The bicycle” when the burning down of a cinema by police forces is described (Satrapi 14). Using this technique, the followers of the regime are displayed as individuals that do not have an individual opinion, but rather blend into the crowd of people and go with the mainstream ideology hat is prevalent during the current political situation. This makes this social group stand out in such a way that the reader considers them generally as less educated and unable to question the political views that society has. The fact that Satrapi shows the persons that lean towards the more communistic political opinion in greater detail than revolutionists shows her political beliefs, therefore furthering the idea that this novel can be considered a memoir. In addition, the policemen of the revolutionary regime are depicted as corrupt and detached from their values.

When the family almost gets caught having alcohol in their house, the policemen accept money from Marji’s father and leave again without checking his flat (Satrapi 10). If the actual religious core values of the regime were important to those policemen, they would not have left the site without checking, since the possession of forbidden substances is obvious to them. This depicts how separated the followers of the regime are from their own values that they promote.

Satrapi tells the reader this story because she wants to expose the hypocrisy with which the government officials and therefore also the police operates. In this case, the author uses a plot device to express her political opinion. She makes the conscious decision to include this memory in her novel because it illustrates her opposition to the government and demonstrates a strong reason why using these policemen as bait. Similarly, in Marji’s description the army uses techniques that clearly aim for the less educated and poor people to join the military.

A plastic key on a chain is distributed to the less educated in order to convince them that they will go to heaven if they fight for their country. Satrapi uses the dialogue between her mother and their housekeeper to indicate how upset the upper social class us about the strategy that the government uses to persuade the innocent youth of Iran (Satrapi 99). The government clearly aims for the young adults that do not have much of a choice other than joining the army and dying at a young age.

On top of that, they are also naive enough to believe that the key will bring them to heaven. Mrs. Nasrine tells the story of how her son is being convinced to go to the army (Satrapi 100). The family helps to convince Mrs. Nasrine’s son that the government is spreading lies (Satrapi 101). Marji’s mother is debunking the myths of the government in front of everyone’s eyes. The author uses this technique to express her own, negative opinion for the government and the manner in which they treat the young adults and not caring about their lives.

In conclusion, certain techniques of visual rhetoric and plot devices can be detected in the novel and are utilized to express the personal opinion of the author whilst displaying the revolutionary government as incompetent and unqualified. The followers of the regime are displayed homogenously without distinct characteristics or an individual opinion. The police that is associated with the government is corrupt and the methods of recruiting new soldiers for the army are only intended for uneducated and naive people because others cannot be tricked into the belief of going to heaven.

The author makes great use of this technique not only when describing the revolutionists, but also when she is delivering her own opinion about how women were treated in Iran during her childhood. When deciphering these methods and finding the hidden comments on the social structure we really see the author in her mid-forties who is writing. The novel far expands from the view of a ten year old and is not only a story of a childhood, but also a critical commentary on moral issues and personal opinion. [Word count: 958] Citation: Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. Pantheon. New York. 2003.

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