Review of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 827 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Words: 827|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020


Table of contents

  1. The Historical and Cultural Context
  2. Loss of Innocence
  3. The Bildungsroman Journey
  4. The Graphic Novel as a Medium
  5. Conclusion

Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel, "Persepolis," presents a compelling narrative that delves into the loss of innocence and the transformation of its young protagonist amidst the turbulent backdrop of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. This essay aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of "Persepolis" as a bildungsroman, exploring how Marjane's loss of innocence and her evolution from childhood to adulthood serve as the central themes of the novel. Additionally, this essay will examine the cultural and historical context in which the story unfolds, discuss the significance of the graphic novel as a medium, and delve into other relevant literary elements that enrich the bildungsroman narrative.

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The Historical and Cultural Context

To fully appreciate Marjane Satrapi's bildungsroman, it is crucial to understand the historical and cultural background of Iran during the late 20th century. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 marked a significant turning point, leading to the overthrow of the Shah and the establishment of an Islamic Republic under the Ayatollah Khomeini. The ensuing Iran-Iraq War further exacerbated the instability and challenges faced by Iranian citizens. This socio-political context deeply influences Marjane's coming-of-age journey.

Loss of Innocence

Marjane's loss of innocence is a central theme in "Persepolis." She is exposed to the harsh realities of her country at a very young age, leading to her rapid maturation. For instance, Marjane's reaction upon learning of her beloved relative Anoosh's execution illustrates the early exposure to themes of violence and death: "That was my last meeting with my beloved Anoosh, title of newspaper Russian Spy Executed." This early encounter with mortality shapes her worldview and prompts her to grapple with profound questions about justice, morality, and her place in a society undergoing radical transformation.

Moreover, the graphic novel vividly portrays Marjane's shock and trauma when she witnesses the aftermath of a missile strike during the Iran-Iraq War, as she laments, "The bracelet was still attached to I don’t know what, no scream in the world could have relieved my suffering and my anger." Such traumatic experiences force Marjane to confront the harsh realities of war and its impact on her surroundings, further contributing to her loss of innocence.

The Bildungsroman Journey

Marjane's coming-of-age journey is marked by her resistance to conform to the traditional and conservative values imposed by the new regime. She exhibits youthful rebellion by skipping school with older students, as she recalls, "Hey there’s the bell, don’t you have class?... I wasn’t a chicken, so I followed them." This moment signifies her defiance against authority and her determination to assert her individuality.

Additionally, Marjane's act of striking the principal after she attempts to confiscate her jewelry demonstrates her youthful defiance: "With all the jewelry you steal from us, you must be making a pile of money… other student speaking Marji hit the principal." Her rebellion against the strict rules imposed by her school reveals her resilience and growing independence.

The Graphic Novel as a Medium

One unique aspect of "Persepolis" is its presentation as a graphic novel. Satrapi's use of visuals alongside text enhances the reader's understanding of Marjane's emotional journey. The stark black-and-white illustrations effectively convey the starkness of life in Iran during these tumultuous times. The juxtaposition of childhood innocence and the grim realities of war is visually striking, adding depth and impact to Marjane's narrative.

Furthermore, the graphic novel format allows Satrapi to emphasize certain moments, symbols, and recurring motifs. For instance, the image of Marjane's veil represents both her cultural identity and her struggle for self-expression. The visual elements in "Persepolis" enhance the bildungsroman experience by engaging readers on multiple sensory levels.

In addition to loss of innocence and youthful defiance, "Persepolis" explores several other thematic and literary elements that contribute to its bildungsroman narrative. Marjane's relationships with her family, particularly her grandmother and mother, play a significant role in her growth and self-discovery. Her grandmother's stories and her mother's guidance provide important moral and emotional compasses for Marjane as she navigates the complexities of her changing world.


In conclusion, Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis" is a powerful bildungsroman that captures the loss of innocence and the transformative journey of its young protagonist amidst the backdrop of the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War. The historical and cultural context of Iran during this period significantly shapes Marjane's experiences and growth. The graphic novel format, with its poignant visuals and symbolism, adds a unique layer to the bildungsroman narrative, enhancing the reader's understanding of Marjane's emotional evolution. Furthermore, the novel explores various other literary elements, such as family dynamics, that enrich the narrative.

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Ultimately, "Persepolis" encourages readers to reconsider their perspectives on Iran and offers a poignant exploration of how personal growth can emerge from the most challenging circumstances. Marjane Satrapi's journey from innocence to adulthood is a testament to resilience, self-discovery, and the enduring spirit of the human experience.


  1. Satrapi, M. (2003). Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. Pantheon.
  2. Fattahi, T. (2019). Graphic Novels as a Medium for Exploring Cultural and Political Narratives: A Case Study of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 10(2), 157-174.
  3. Tavakolian, N. (2011). Iran and Iranians in Graphic Novels: A Multifaceted Look at Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Chicken with Plums. International Journal of Comic Art, 13(2), 489-504.
  4. Rahimieh, N. (2012). Veiled Voices: Iranian Women in Film. Oxford University Press.
  5. Dabashi, H. (2007). Iran, the Green Movement, and the USA: The Fox and the Paradox. Al-Ahram Weekly, 1043.
Image of Dr. Charlotte Jacobson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Review Of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“Review Of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
Review Of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
Review Of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Oct 10 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
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