Persepolis: Captivity V. Freedom

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A Contained Country Searching for Freedom

“It was too late. Too many of those who had at least tolerated the Shah's rule had been

lost. Demonstrations continued.” (“The Pahlavi Monarchy Falls” 2) In Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, the country of Iran undergoes a series of governmental changes which restricted the citizens. Ironically, when the Shah’s regime fell, the citizens believed they would gain a limitless freedom with no boundaries; however, the citizens were experiencing an unhappy life full of fear and misery. Happiness is tied to the freedoms in doing whatever you want, the citizens of Iran never fully obtained freedom or happiness because of the strict clothing, call of actions, and material goods. In the opening scene of Persepolis, Marjane and her classmates who are girls, were forced

to wear a veil showcasing the transition of a country being refined and controlled. The reactions of Marji’s classmates depicts sadness and hostility towards the veil foreshadowing what effect the veil will have in the future for the country of Iran. (Fig. 1) With the Shah in power, opposition led to nothing but terror and consequences for the rebels. Fig. 1 (p. 3)

“On January 7, 1936, Iran became the first Muslim country to ban the veil following a royal decree by Reza Shah Pahlavi; this was part of a series of actions taken by Reza Shah in an effort to "modernize" Iran. The strict enforcement of the unveiling of women caused much uproar and distress among various communities.” (Namakydoust) However, when the Shah left, the citizens felt they would gain a sense of freedom. In their mind, they were “free” because this tyrannous leader had left; so they celebrated and expressed their joy with their clothing which had a variety of patterns rather than just a black or white outfit. (Fig. 2) “The country had the biggest celebration of it’s entire history” (Satrapi 42) That was the only time, the citizens had a sense of freedom. Unfortunately, after the Shah’s regime, the

country of Iran was in a midst of an Islamic Revolution and the restriction on clothing was Fig. 2 (p. 42)

far more limited. “That in turn encouraged a

move towards more traditional values and ways of living, which included dressing more modestly for both men and women and even wearing the scarf or the veil for some women. For many women making the decision to wear the chador was not based on religious grounds, but it was a conscious effort to make a statement against the Pahlavi regime.” (Namakydoust) There were two types of men and women: a modern or a fundamentalist (believed in absolute religious authority) man or woman. A fundamentalist man or woman would be completely covered up (a woman would be confined in wearing a veil that only exposed their face and a man would not

shave and have his shirt hanging out) and it would reflect their lifestyle under religious authority: being anti-modernists. (Fig. 3) Opposed from the veil to only covering the woman’s head, now the veil was used to cover their whole body signifying how much the citizens were limited after the Shah’s regime. Sadly, it got worse than that. If a woman was improperly veiled, the consequence would be that they could be arrested. The contrast of the fundamentalist women and Marji shows the contrast between their beliefs and the different uses of the veil. (Fig. 4) “The way people behave, eat or drink, dress and how easily they interact with the opposite sex is normally an indication of Fig. 3 (p. 75)

how traditional or modern they are (even what class they belong too) and what to expect when dealing with them.” (Price 1) As the years progressed, the veil only revealed negative connotations. It confined the women to a certain way of dressing and living in a certain lifestyle. The clothes the Iranian citizens wore, never expressed their own free will or social liberty. They were always contained and “molded” into what the government or leaders expected the people to wear. Fig....
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