Oppression in Persepolis: Quotes & Examples

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha has Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology, as well as a Bachelor's in Marketing. She has extensive experience creating & teaching curricula in college level education, history, English, business and marketing.

Persepolis is the graphic novel that tells of Marji, a young girl who is trying to live and be herself in Iran during the Islamic revolution, which resulted in religious oppression. Updated: 06/01/2021


Persepolis is the true story of Marjane Satrapi as she grew up in Iran during one of the most volatile times in Iran's history, the Islamic Revolution, which was a religiously motivated revolution to overthrow the Western-allied shah, and the Iran-Iraq War, which was a protracted conflict between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran from 1980 to 1988. The country was bombarded with new rules, requirements, and bombings while people fought for food at the grocery store. Marji, as she was called, writes the story of this time through her eyes and about her family. She seeks to show that the Iranian people were very similar to others; they were just oppressed and changed due to the new regime.

Marjane, an outspoken young girl brought up in a liberal household, learns how to wear a veil and deal with the separation of genders in schools. Marjane struggles with the new regime, but also struggles with the social inequality of her country and how her family plays a part in it.

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  • 0:04 ''Persepolis''
  • 1:11 The Veil
  • 2:23 The Military
  • 3:25 The Lack of Fun
  • 4:22 Lesson Summary
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The Veil

The veil was the largest oppressive symbol in Persepolis. It stood for the Islamic revolution and the religious oppression that it was forcing upon the Iranian people. ''We really didn't like to wear the veil, especially since we didn't understand why we had to.'' This seemed to also be tied into the closing of secular schools as well, at least in Marji's mind. ''We found ourselves veiled and separated from our friends.''

The veil was also oppressive for the women in Iran. Marji's mother experiences an even harder time when she chooses not to wear the veil. She gets accosted on the street by two men of the new fundamentalist regime. ''They insulted me, they said women like me should be pushed up against the wall and fucked. And then thrown in the garbage. . . and that if I didn't want that to happen, I should wear the veil.'' It was here in the story that the veil's oppression seemed to escalate.

The schools just got worse for the girls. They started daily self-flagellation to prove their faith and their suffering for their God. The girls' schools also went from teaching lessons for education to sewing hoods for soldiers and learning about their faith. Education was nearly eliminated.

The Military

For the boys and men in Iran, they suffered a different oppression that came in the form of sacrifice in the military. They started indoctrinating the boys early, usually around 14, giving the golden key to paradise. ''They gave this to my son at school. They told the boys that if they went to war and were lucky enough to die, this key would get them into heaven.'' The poorer boys are given the key to get them excited to go to war, and then they send them off, still at only 14.

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