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Persepolis & Not Without My Daughter sample essay

The Iranian revolution of 1979 refers to the overthrowing of the last king of Iran. It was an Islamic revolution which attempted to replace Mohammed Reza Shah, with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution. Strong opposition against the Shah showed that the people wanted a religious ruler rather than someone they saw as an American puppet. Many Iranian people would think that the Shah was a ‘capitalist pig’ who ran a corrupt and repressive regime but tried to embrace western style democracy. In saying this, Iran was a very developed and modern nation during the Shah’s reign where students were educated together and westernization took over. The Shah, who was supported by many western powers, ruled Iran like a dictatorship. He oppressed his people, many of which were illiterate, and kept most of them in poverty which made him very unpopular. The people of Iran were living in an oil rich country, and yet poverty was not uncommon. They enjoyed freedoms unheard of in Saudi Arabia, yet were kept under the brutal force of the secret police, the Savak.

On the other hand when Khomeini took over the government was a theocracy and ended all progression in Iran and forced his Islamic rules on the people. Iran became a completely different nation after Khomeini took power losing all its foreign industry and development. Khomeini believed that Iran was losing its origins and history to Americanization. He ruled using the Quran, the Islamic holy book. This meant new Islamic laws were imposed on people, a new dress code was coerced on woman while men had more freedoms displaying patriarchy in society. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press were ostensibly protected, at least as long as it did not contradict Islamic law. He expelled all other influences whereas the shah agreed with capitalism and modernization on the culture and economy. This caused Khomeini to cut off western influence and made Iran an Islamic republic. The Shah had previously outlawed the wearing of the chador in public whereas Khomeini made it law to wear the chador.

The people believed that when Khomeini seized power in 1979 he would bring freedom and inequality in their nation however this was not the case. There were many systematic human rights violations, including mass executions and conscriptions. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is an autobiography about her childhood growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution. The medium of storytelling is through a graphic novel which gives a different kind of textual interpretation. The books style is meant to represent a childlike understanding of the world since the novel follows Satrapis own childhood in Tehran, Iran. Marjane recounts the political situation in Iran during the year 1979 throughout the book. In the first part of the book, the women are required to wear a veil, to which Marji’s mother protests. Nevertheless her family is religious and of Iranian decent but they live a liberal and westernized lifestyle, reflective of the Shah’s regime.

The book was written in 2003 yet it’s in black and white to show the past and how Khomeini’s laws left Iran vacant of colour and modern culture. In contrast to the film Not Without My Daughter is based on a true story of Betty Mahmoody’s escape from Iran with her daughter after her Iranian husband attempted to turn a two-week vacation into a permanent relocation against her will. Betty and her family live in the Michigan and lead a very westernized life similar to the Satrapis; in the two families there is respect and equality in marriage. But within time, Moody becomes more belligerent and abusive towards his wife, taking advantage of the patriarchal Iranian laws. Betty and Marji’s mom are both oppressed under gender specific Islamic law however Marji’s father treats his wife with equality throughout the entire novel.

Due to their liberal and westernized ideals, both the Satrapis and Mahmoody’s suffered drastic alterations to their ways of life under both the rulers. The patriarchal nature of Iran left effects on the two families, shown through the inequality within both marriages, their views of education and changes in the nature of their parent-child relationships. Following the revolution, Iran experiences drastic changes in all areas of society. Women were greatly affected during Khomeini’s rule, having their rights taken away. A new Islamic dress code was imposed on all women in Iran, this change influenced Betty, Marji’s mother and Marji herself. As stated in the Quran, women should wear the hijab in public covering themselves to gain more self-confidence and self-respect knowing who they are in the society. In saying this, during Khomeini’s rule ushered in oppressive laws against women that restricted a woman’s right to express her individuality as a woman, with a dress code being one of the most important impacts seen in both autobiographies.

In the very beginning of the book, Marjane stated, “We didn’t really like to wear the veil, especially since we didn’t understand why we had to’’ Marjane found the veil especially difficult to accept as seen throughout the book because they were of a westernized mentality and did not approve of the restrictions placed on women’s rights even though [she] was very religious. Marji her family ‘’were very modern and avant-garde’’ and saw the veil as having their basic freedoms taken away. The hijab had turned woman against each other and ‘’there were demonstrations for and against the veil’’ which created conflict in society between westernized people like Marji’s mother and woman who wanted to keep Islamic ideas in practice. Woman demonstrating against the current regime would often let some of their hair show which meant that ‘’Woman faced prison when they refused to wear the veil’’. In the film Not Without My Daughter, Betty Mahmoody an American woman got a rifle pointed at her by police when she first arrived in Tehran, because she wasn’t familiar with the new dress code for women at the time similarly to Persepolis.

Betty later gets informed that for ‘every hair that is shown is like a dagger in the heart of our martyrs’ which means she is showing disrespect for everyone who died for during the revolution. After the revolution took place, Iran became a patriarchal nation giving men much more rights and freedoms than women. Despite Iran being an Islamic nation, the unjust between the two genders is not Islamic rules rather the Iranian society and culture. Educated and respected men disagreed with the inequalities seen in the culture and were conscious of the oppression and shared power within the household. In the movie, when Betty visits Iran shortly after the revolution she discovers a huge difference in culture and society, nothing close to her home. Moody who had been living in the United States was very westernized, yet he had rapidly changed as result of the surrounding environment, he refused his wife and daughter their rights in Iran.

Betty has to obey certain laws imposed upon her in a patriarchal country where Moody oppressed her daily limiting all her freedoms and rights. Moody dominated the relationship and tricked his wife in coming to Iran thinking it was only a two week vacation even though he had planned all along for a permanent stay. Betty tried to rebel and resist the treatment she was receiving from her husband but moody simply replied and said ‘’you’re in my country now” It seemed as soon as Moody came back to Iran he became a totally different man and adopted the patriarchal ways in the environment surrounding him which lead to the control his wife and daughter. In the United States Moody could not have been able to treat her that way and physically abuse her because it was illegal however in Iran this was the norm. Furthermore Moody confiscated Betty’s passport, credit cards and disallowed her to use the phone, essentially keeping her prisoner in his home, if Betty opposed him he would beat her.

On the contrary in the novel, Marji’s parents’ marriage was fair and even it relied on their support and respect for one another to endure the fundamental changes occurring around them. For example Marji’s father joined the protest and ‘’he took photos every day. It was strictly forbidden. He had even been arrested for once but escaped at the last minute’’ this shows how he is supporting his wife and going against the Islamic regime. This proves how the Satrapis did not follow or agree with Iran’s patriarchal system that allowed for the control of wives by their husbands, Moody abused his power over his wife to a great extent by severely limiting her emotional and physical freedom which resulted in an indirect effect on his relationship with Mahtob.

During this time, the culture was discriminatory and brutal against women and came with harsh consequences for any woman who opposed the new government. In Persepolis Marjane’s mother opposes the rules implemented by demonstrating and refusing to wear the veil. Taji’s actions resulted in her being harassed and verbally abused, ‘’they insulted me. They said that women like me should be pushed against a wall and fucked. And then thrown in the garbage’’ This event showed the consequences of not wearing the veil and covering one’s body in public. In the movie Betty, having had a pistol aimed at her, learned that giving up her individuality and femininity was best way to suggest obedience to Islamic rules since she did not want to risk any punishment. Marjane’s mother’s behavior at home and in public was evidence of how having a modern ideology made the Islamic regime seem that much more tyrannical. The Satrapis had strongly opposed the Shah’s dictatorship despite the fact that they had lived a prosperous and modernized life under his rule.

While Betty conformed to the proper conduct expected of an Iranian woman in public; she did not have the freedom to express her opinions and feelings at home because her husband, Moody. His family members were strict followers of Islam, unlike the Satrapis which were not as severely fundamentalist. Gender segregation and the limited rights of women were most evident in Moody’s household because of the oppressive culture that made men and women physically separated from each other during mealtime. Much of Moody’s explanations for his oppressive treatment of his wife were largely due to the guilt he felt as a Iranian Muslim man because he was not in his country during a time the revolution, ‘’I couldn’t believe it, everyone on the streets, I should have been there’’. Therefore, the Islamic rules that the female characters had to cope with had radically changed their lifestyles as they began to live in fear as a result of the patriarchy.

While the two characters both faced and overcame several adversities in the face of oppression and discrimination; however there are some differences of their stories. To be begin with, the Satrapis and Moody have very dissimilar views on the Shah and Khomeini which change throughout the film. There are very different relationships between Marji and her parents and Moody with his daughter. The parent-child relationships in both these works play key roles in explaining Marji and Betty’s interpretation of Iranian culture and philosophy. When the Shah fell from power, essentially all of Iran celebrated; the majority of the population opposed his dictatorship, and welcomed a change in governance.

Khomeini’s leadership offered a poor alternative and a false representation of Islam, causing many to alter their views about the Shah. Preceding Khomeini’s rule, the Satrapis favored any sort of revolution against the Shah’s regime. Although the Satrapis prospered under the western governance as shown is stated in chapter one, the Marji’s family had a maid, ‘’had a Cadillac’’ and lived a luxurious lifestyle. After Khomeini came into power, Mr Satrapi is discriminated against because of his tie and suit, an Iranian policeman calling him a “westernized piece of trash”. This causes Mr Satrapi to become upset and defends his western mindset.

It is obvious, though the Satrapis attitude, that despite the fact that they desired the Shah removed from power they were still unable to live in way same manner under the Shah. Whereas Moody, showed his happiness at the overthrowing of the Shah’s stating, ‘’ [Iranians] could say whatever we want, this is our faith, this is our life, this is who we are, [and] nothing can stop us.” They may not have liked their earlier ruler, yet they valued the western way of life that provided them with freedom. What was supposed to be a revolution for an improved lifestyle had become a new regime where the Satrapis and Mahmoodys were oppressed in a different style.

Not Without My Daughter and Persepolis both demonstrated how Iranian people with liberal and westernized ideologies tried to deal and live under an oppressive and fundamentalist regime that was differed from their entire beliefs. Iran was once a progressive and rich country even though the majority of the population suffered greatly from extreme poverty. On the other hand Khomeini was by no means an improvement to the government system; people felt that he ran another style of dictatorship.

He unleashed a completely new fundamentalist Islamic regime within Iran where women’s rights were suppressed; for instance the oppression of liberty through dress code. Most significantly, they could not stand living in fear of the horrifying consequences they would face if they appeared to go against the fundamentalist regime. For all of the similarities and differences between both autobiographies, the major points of comparison were oppression of woman, life under the Islamic regime and fundamentalist ideals. However the parent child relationships differed as well as views on impacts of education on indoctrination. In conclusion both families had been oppressed under patriarchal Islamic rules in which they tried to rebel and essentially escape the country.

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