The Importance of Visual Image in Persepolis

Essay details

The Importance Of Visual Image in Persepolis

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Table of Contents

  • Graphic Form
  • Colour in Persepolis
  • Summary

Why don’t some people like to read? That is because they don’t like looking at a wall of texts on each page. Having a book with hundred pages of text and words can cause some readers to not like reading. That is why many readers prefer reading graphic books or novels.

Graphic Form

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novel about a young girl growing up in Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War. Satrapi choose to tell her story in graphic novel form instead of normal prose-based novel because she want to have the ability to control what image the audiences see on the page, and with the use simplistic style of drawing with black and white color, makes the readers feels more connected and understand more of the story. With Persepolis written in graphic novel form, Marjane Satrapi have the power to control the images that the audiences see. In a prose-based novel, the author still is able to describe a scene to the audience in some details, but not everyone will visualize the same image because everyone brains work differently. Some will visualize the image differently than other, even if the image is only slightly different by a small detail. But in Persepolis, the author has more power over what appears on the page and what the readers will visualize because it’s in a graphic novel form.

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For instance, when Marjane is talking to her image of God, which lends a kind of veracity to her statement: we can at least see that Marji believes she is truly talking to God. But God is drawn as a large and sizeable figure with long, flowing white hair and beard, which is very familiar to the figure of God in the Western world (8). Satrapi is doing this on purpose because it’s an image that many people could recognize as an image of God, and in some ways connect the eastern and western readers together because they are able to visualize the same image of God. With this image, we, as the readers can feel connected with what Marjane is doing. She’s asking for God’s advice on what she should do. And as readers, we can connect with that because many, not all, of us usually pray and ask God for what we should do. Having an image of God that everyone can recognize helped everyone whose read the novel to take the same image that’s on the page and put it in their head. The readers can see what the author is trying to tell the readers to visualize, therefore helped the readers makes more connections and understand more about the story.

That is what Marjane is doing throughout her graphic novel, using her arts to control what we, as readers see. In the western world, we often get bombarded and overwhelmed with images of the Islamic World and Muslim as something else. Those images are culturally biased and meant to portray that world as ‘other’ and ‘inhumane’. And the author is trying to recover that image and restore it through the control she has over the images in her novel.

Colour in Persepolis

The choice of color in Persepolis is interesting because it’s all illustrated in black and white portraits. The simplistic style of drawing is also another aspect that influences what the readers see and feel. Many of the graphic novels that kids usually grow up reading are all illustrated in black and white. And with the author choosing to use black and white, it reminds some readers of their childhood and the reason why they loved reading graphic novels. She manipulates the use of black and white to create a sense of depression and sadness that surround the real meaning of Persepolis.

For instance, when Marji’s dad asked his friend about Ahmadi, his friend replied that he suffered tortures like burning him with iron, whipping, and later, cut him into pieces (51). In this situation, the readers can see the brutal images that showed the types of tortures and punishment imposed on people, and the black and white make it seem sad and miserable with a gloomy mood. In the last panel, Marjane’s emotion is clearly showed on her face. And since there is no color, it helped emphasize the expression and mood at that moment. The black and white color mixed with her simplistic style of drawing is a way that the author influences what the readers see. Satrapi does this to take her images away from any political, racial, national, or cultural bias. If her style would have been very realistic, it could have created a sense of disconnect for western readers, and she wants to everyone over the world to feels the same way reading her novel.


Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novel about a young girl growing in Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War. The author chooses to tell her story in graphic novel form to control the images that the audiences see. With the choice of black and white color with the simplistic style of drawing helped the readers feel more connected to the story and take away any political, racial, national, or cultural bias.

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