The Unveiling

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The Unveiling

Cultures are full of symbols. Flags, standards and banners are symbols. They are not just pieces of colored cloth, wood or metal; they symbolize armies, ideologies and nations. Idols are not deities but symbols of such entities. The cross is a symbol, reminiscent of the crucifixion of Jesus, and so is the crescent, the symbol of the Mesopotamian moon god, that has been adopted by the Muslims as the symbol of Islam. While celestial religious symbols and deification of humans have been prohibited by the Jews, they symbolically sanctify the Torah scrolls, hand-written on parchment, that describe the pre-monarchic history of the Israelites, their laws and faith, inherent in Jewish culture. People honor and protect their own symbols but often destroy the symbols of adversaries as a token of dominance. Symbols may have very narrow or quite wide ranges of meaning. The range may be limited to an individual, or perhaps to a small group. People other than the individual or group will not understand that meaning of the symbol. A symbol's range may be cultural, meaning that members of cultural groups know it: ethnic groups, religious groups, national groups, and so on. Since literature is symbolic, its meaning is not simple or single. A symbol has complex meaning. It has not only "literal" meaning, but also additional meaning(s) beyond the literal. Sometimes the literal meaning of a symbol is absurd, so that the symbolic meaning over-rides and cancels out the literal meaning. A symbol may have more than one meaning. In fact, the most significant symbols do convey an indefinite range of meanings. The animated movie Persepolis, written by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, uses the veil Marjane had to wear as a symbol that can be broken down through the Deconstructionism Theory.

There are many definitions of the Deconstructionism Theory. One explanation states Deconstructionism as, “A philosophical and critical movement, starting in the1960s and especially applied to the study of literature, that questions all traditional assumptions about the ability of language to represent reality and emphasizes that a text has no stable reference or identification because words essentially only refer to other words and therefore a reader must approach a text by eliminating an metaphysical or ethnocentric assumptions through an active role of defining meaning, sometimes by a reliance on new word construction, etymology, puns, and other word play” (dictionary.com). Another definition states that it is, “A technique of literary analysis that regards meaning as resulting from the differences between words rather than their reference to the things they stand for. Different meanings are discovered by taking apart the structure of the language used and exposing the assumption that words have a fixed reference point beyond themselves” (dictionary.com). Basically, these complicated definitions are trying to state that the Deconstructionism Theory is based on the idea that nothing has meaning, and everything is a symbol that carries an idea that varies from person to person depending on their background. Two things that are lacking from these definitions are the words “signifier” and “signified.” A signifier is the symbol being used, and the signified is the idea that is supposed to come across through the symbol. In this case, the veil would be the signifier and the signified is the meaning Marjane unconsciously places on the veil. In the beginning, Marjane is forced to wear a veil at school, and she doesn't know what to think about it. At the core of her being is religion. It was for this reason that she submits to the authority of her teachers, who have told her of the religious symbolism behind the veil. “One of the gestures of deconstruction is to not naturalize what isn’t natural-to not assume that what is conditioned by history, institutions, or society is natural” (Derrida). In her society they taught...
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