The Theme of Rebellion in Persepolis Essay

The Theme of Rebellion in Persepolis Essay
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In the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis, there are various themes that are evident in both text and graphics. The graphics and texts are very captivating to follow and read, and they keep the reader entertained. In Persepolis, numerous struggles and stories are presented like the author’s struggles in life and the conflicts with parents, the war between Iraq and Iran, problems in school, and the Islamic revolution. Therefore, the most prevalent theme that is common in all these instances in the Persepolis is rebellion. Rebellion refers to the refusal to follow the law or obey the set rules. Rebellion is evident throughout the novel, in different forms and shapes, and it has revolved around Marjane’s life. In addition, Persepolis’ exploration of the theme of rebellion affects its readers’ approach to their ethics.     

Why the theme of rebellion is significant in Marjane’s life experience

At the commencement of the novel, there is an example of rebellion, where Marjane narrates how, due to the 1980 Islamic revolution, females were supposed to dress in veils in school (Satrapi 3). The rebellion is highlighted on the same page where there is a graphic representation that shows children utilizing their veils as jumping ropes and reins. The scenario makes a charade of the obligation to wear veils. The rebellion is evident in various instances in the novel where it illustrates and mentions women wearing veils the wrong way with part of their hair showing. Marjane sheds light on the oppressive nature of the regime, which makes even young girls wear veils, causing much discomfort. The rebellion, therefore, is a clear indication that young girls like Marjane want to enjoy life.

Rebellion is also evident in the later stages of the novel when Marjane’s parents attempt to bring their daughter a gift from Turkey to Iran (Satrapi 128).  Satrapi, just like other kids, had idols and hobbies. However, in Tehran, numerous things were forbidden as they were deemed inapt with religion. Therefore, Satrapi had to conceal her hobbies as they were deemed to be “indecent” and “unladylike.” Satrapi loves Kim Wilde, Michael Jackson, and Iron Maiden. At the onset of their trip, Marjane asked her parents for some posters, chocolate, and a denim jacket from Turkey. The parents knew that the task was near impossible, but they were determined to please their daughter. Marjane required four posters, and her mother tears the lining of her husband’s coat. She puts the posters inside and sews back the lining. The posters make Marjane’s father stand in an awkward position due to the posters, and he looks hilarious. When they reach customs, they encounter accusations of being smugglers, which they are able to evade and board the plane. Their rebellion to follow custom laws was based on their need to please their daughter, which means that parents should please their children even though it means being rebellious during difficult times.

Marjane and her family have an intricate time in dealing with the prevalent war and the stern measures undertaken by the government. They live in an era where they have to be cautious about what they do or say. Therefore, Satrapi’s family hosts parties regularly as a way of boosting their spirit as well as those of their friends. Satrapi indicates that regardless of all the dangers associated with a party, parties must continue because life could be unbearable, as the psychological load is too heavy for the people (Satrapi 106). The parties are characterized by music, games, and alcohol, which are forbidden in their city. Therefore, they have to be very careful to ensure that they are not caught. They have a good time during the parties, and everyone is happy. Even when there was a power outage during one of the parties, this did not stop them from holding the party as Satrapi’s dad plays a Zarb, and the party continues. However, one of the families was planning a party and was busted by the regime where they were nabbed with a chess set, a deck of cards, and video cassettes, which are all illegal. They were given seventy-five lashes by the regime (Satrapi 105). However, this did not stop them from holding parties, as they just became more careful by using black curtains to hide their parties. This is a clear show of rebellion which assisted Satrapi and her family to enjoy life despite the prevailing hardships in the city.                                                         

How Persepolis exploration of the theme of rebellion affect its readers approach their ethics  

The theme of rebellion has affected how the readers view their ethics. In the first rebellion case that revolves around the veil (Satrapi 3). The oppressive law by the regime does not care about how young girls in school feel when wearing veils. They have to play and study wearing veils. The reader is, therefore, given the green light that it is okay to go against the societal values if the reader regards the values to interfere with their comfort and the tasks they perform. Hence, the exploration of the rebellion against veils is a way of dictating that people can rebel against laws that dictate what its citizens have to wear.

The second aspect of rebellion is where Marjane’s parents rebel against the customs laws and passing illegal commodities into the country. In this case, the novel shows that it is important to go against ethics when it comes to family. In life, the family is the first priority, and parents should do what is in their power to ensure that their children are happy. Readers are enlightened that tit is okay to be rebellious against the law if it means that their children’s needs are met. Marjane’s parents are able to sneak posters and chocolate to satisfy the interests of their daughter from Turkey to Iran (Satrapi 128). The novel, therefore, paints parents as rebellious people who can break the law to put a smile on their children’s faces even in difficult times.

The third form of rebellion is that where Marjane’s family holds parties where they drink alcohol, play games, and music, which are all banned by the regime (Satrapi 106). This is to help families unwind through the tough times they are facing. The reader, therefore, gets the perception that it is okay to change their view of the societal laws if they are leading to psychological problems. If individuals are not happy with a regime, it is okay for them to seek happiness in activities that do not harm anyone though they are against the law.


Rebellion is evident throughout the novel, in different forms and shapes, and it has revolved around Marjane’s life. The first rebellion is against the wearing of veils by women. The second rebellion is when Marjane’s parents smuggle posters from Turkey to Iran to please their daughter. The last rebellion is when Marjane’s family holds parties which are prohibited by the regime as a way to unwind during difficult times. These forms of rebellion affect its readers’ approach to their ethics as they informed that it is okay to go against the regime for the greater good.

Works cited:

Satrapi Marjane. Persepolis: The Story of an Iranian Childhood. New York: Random House