satrapi's persepolis cover

Theme of Religion in Satrapi’s “Persepolis”

Religion is a central and salient theme in Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis.” Through Marji’s experiences and the events depicted in the novel, the theme of religion takes on various dimensions, illustrating its complex role in Iranian society during a time of political upheaval.

In the early part of the novel, Marji is deeply devout and finds solace in her faith. She regularly prays and participates in her family’s religious traditions. This faith offers her a sense of connection to a higher power, providing comfort during turbulent times like the Iran-Iraq War. Her commitment to religion is evident in her decision to become a prophet and her heartfelt conversations with God during moments of distress.

As the Iranian Revolution unfolds, religion becomes increasingly politicized and oppressive. The regime enforces strict Islamic laws, including mandatory veiling for women. Marji witnesses the oppressive nature of these religious rules firsthand as they curtail personal freedom and stifle individual expression. Her resistance to wearing the veil serves as a direct challenge to these repressive religious mandates.

As Marji matures and becomes more disillusioned with the regime, she begins to question organized religion. She differentiates between spirituality and the rigid dogma imposed by the state. Marji explores more personal and individual connections to spirituality, often engaging in private dialogues with God rather than adhering to established religious practices.

While Marji questions the authoritarian aspects of religion, she also observes instances of religious figures and communities engaging in acts of resistance against the oppressive regime. She witnesses religious leaders advocating for justice and challenging the government’s abuses of power. These examples demonstrate that religion can also be a force for positive change and resistance.

Throughout “Persepolis,” religion is portrayed as a multifaceted and evolving theme. It serves as a source of comfort and stability for Marji, a tool of repression when manipulated by the regime, a catalyst for her personal exploration of spirituality, and even a means of resistance. The theme of religion underscores the complexities of faith and its role in shaping individual and collective identities in a society undergoing significant political and social transformations.

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