Persepolis Essay Analysis
The Use of Color in Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis The book Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is, interestingly, al illustrated in black-and-white portraits with additional splashes of gray. Although there are many critics about Satrapi’s use of this style, it eventually compels towards her story’s ultimate goal to show to the reader that her life was always filled with danger, anger, sadness, violence, religious extremism, tyrannical political reigns and brain-washing propaganda. Hence, Satrapi knows this book well because it is her life, and she obviously knows that what she has presented to the reader is really the reality of her life.
If depressing color shades are meant to be part of her story then they must correlate somehow throughout the literary piece. Marjane Satrapi manipulates the use of dark colors along with white to create a sense of antiquity and of depression that both envelop the real meaning of the graphic novel Persepolis. At the very beginning of the book the appearance is that off black, white and grey on the introduction. She writes that “in the second millennium B. C. , while the Elam nation was developing a civilization alongside Babylon, Indo-European invaders gave their name to the immense Iranian plateau where they settled.
The word ‘Iran’ was derived from ‘Ayryana Vaejo,’ which means ‘the origin of the Aryans. ’”(1) It is this very origin of Satrapi’s people, who rose near the capital of Persepolis, that the roots to her present life rise from. Immediately the reader is made to think about the past, and it is form the black and white past that she goes on to her early childhood. Years are immediately given by Satrapi, writing that when she was “10 years old” it was “1980” (3), and that “in 1979 a revolution took place called ‘the Islamic Revolution’. (3) Although years are not used quite often from then on, Satrapi keeps pressing the idea of the past when the shah of Iran “made a declaration on TV” (49) that he would abdicate. The picture of the TV in pure black and white is an image many people associate with antiquity and old age, and this is one probably the only picture in the entire book that can be truly considered accurately colored. Another historical reference of time is yet another TV picture of “a map of Iran and a black could (cover) the country little by little”(78) when she was still traveling in Spain.
The colors used by Satrapi do immediately give the story a sense of the past, like one is accustomed to see in the old black and white movies. Marjane Satrapi’s artistic technique also waves an aura of negativity and danger into the novel. In the very beginning she testifies that, like some of her friends, she “didn’t really like to wear the veil, especially since (she) didn’t understand why (she) had to” (3). Many vile pictures drawn by Satrapi show an abundance of fear and death when on a “black Friday” when there “was one massacre after another,” and as a result “many people were killed”(40).
One of Satrapi’s family friends named Ahmadi was made to suffer “the worst torture. They burned him with an iron. ”(51) Again, in this situation in her childhood the reader can see brutal pictures showing the types of lacerations and tortures imposed on people, and the black and white make it seem sad and lamenting with a gloomy mood. The same can be said when “in the end he was cut to pieces” (52) just to elongate the repulsiveness and lamentation imposed by the picture.
Yet another picture with a significant impact on the reader and that serves as a good example for the efficiency of Satrapi’s style is when her renowned uncle says that the Russians don’t have “hearts” and that “they don’t know how to love. ” (59) He says this with tears on his eyes, and the single small frame drawn by Satrapi illustrates his melancholy face filled with regret and horrible past memories. In these pictures there is no color. Hence, there is no mirth or happiness in consubstantial levels high enough to consider the rest of the story’s plot as a good one.
The story presents dilemma after dilemma, and the dark colors and shades of gray keep the reader aware of the tragedy and insecurity Satrapi felt on a constant basis. Overall the story of Persepolis has a bountiful quantity of pictures with dark, white, and gray shades which integrate on the story time and emotion, antiquity and depression, age and gloom. Satrapi’s technique is clever, and surely does follow through into expressing Marjane Satrapi’s “story of a childhood”. A story filled with moments of confusion, and war, and blood, and death, and sadness, and a plethora of other negative emotions.