Literary Devices in Persepolis: Depicting Oppression and Extremism

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Literary Devices in Persepolis: Depicting Oppression and Extremism

This essay will discuss the use of literary devices in Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel “Persepolis.” It will explore how Satrapi uses visual and narrative techniques to depict themes of oppression, extremism, and personal identity in the context of the Iranian Revolution. PapersOwl offers a variety of free essay examples on the topic of Fiction.

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Exploring the Graphic Depiction of Oppression: Extremist Social Groups and the Guardians of the Revolution in The Complete Persepolis

Literature is considered as a voice for the oppressed. This is proved in Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel The Complete Persepolis, where she portrays the oppression by the fundamentalists of the secularists and nationalists in Iran during the Islamic revolution, which took place in 1980. Her work acts as a voice for those who are oppressed. The novel is a bildungsroman, which allows the novel to experience the author’s emotions and development throughout the novel, experienced during the political crisis the Iranians faced in the aftermath of the Iranian revolution.

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The essence of the novel is in the graphical illustrations and visual images, which allow the readers to see the attributes of the characters in the novel. This written task focuses on the extremist social groups and the Guardians of the Revolution and their representation throughout the novel. The analysis will be structured based on literary and graphical devices seen in the novel as well as the reasonings as to why the author has such opinions on the social groups.

Unveiling Literary Techniques in Persepolis: Depicting Extremism and Oppression through Graphic Storytelling

At first glance, the illustration of the fundamentalists showcases the ideas of political and religious extremism by physical abuse. The message that the author imparts to the readers is further backed up by the graphical and stylistic devices present in the novel. The graphic novel begins with the historical development of Iran before the Iranian revolution and aims to capture the audience from the first page through graphic weighting, which emphasizes the black and whiteness of society. The teacher is in a higher position compared to the children, indicating that the representative of the Islamic revolution is going to dictate the citizen’s lives by enforcing rules on clothing as the teacher says, “Wear this!”.

Also, the guardians of the revolution, who are a group of Islamic Fundamentalists consisting of bearded men in black clothes, are portrayed in a highly effective manner. An example of this is seen on pages sixty-six and sixty-seven. The first two panels (p.66) show three bearded men who are depicted as frowning and angry men. Their speech bubbles showcase their inner lack of contentment. As the novel progresses, the number of these fundamentalists increases greatly, implying that the novel and the country have become darker. The guardians of the revolution are analogous to violence and the prohibition of freedom. An illustration from the novel showcases their brutality and inner dissatisfaction (p.67). 


  1. Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics”
  2. Hilary Chute’s “Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics”
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Literary Devices in Persepolis: Depicting Oppression and Extremism. (2023, Sep 06). Retrieved from