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Mental Illness in Persepolis

In the final section of Persepolis, a lot goes down; however, the most important part to me was Marji’s attempted suicide. Marji attempts to kill herself due to being depressed for so long after returning to Iran and struggling to adjust back to her home’s culture and deal with processing her life in Vienna. This section of the graphic novel again shows how important the cartoon/child-like drawings are to making the story of Marji’s life digestible to a large audience. There are so many points in the story that are sad, dark, or scary, and if it were to be a typical written novel rather than a graphic novel it would have probably attracted a smaller audience of mainly those in academia. In the graphic novel form, Marji was able to share her message about Iran that she wanted to while reaching a wider audience through the accessibility of a graphic novel. 

Even though this section made me sad, it was interesting to note how quickly and without any dramatic flare that Marji wrote this section. It seemed as though it was just another casual anecdote about her life and not a traumatic life event. This section of the graphic novel brings up important points about mental illness and the effects of living in a war torn nation can have upon its citizens. Even for those who leave also suffer negative side-effects as Marji noted of being a third-world citizen and feeling out of place wherever she went. I think this is an important part of the novel to recognize the effects situations like life in Iran can have on all of its citizens.

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5 Comments

  1. Katherine Fell Katherine Fell

    I agree with you in that Marji’s suicide attempt was the definitive moment of the final section of Persepolis. Like you said, though, Satrapi moves through this ordeal fairly quickly and in a matter of pages she has completely turned herself around and is teaching aerobics classes. I think that this is partly due to the retrospective nature of the memoir. Persepolis was not written as these events were going on; Satrapi started writing it after she leaves Iran again at the end of the graphic novel. Having this new perspective allows for Satrapi to better evaluate the significance of the different events that happened throughout her life.

  2. David Ataide David Ataide

    I agree with your statement that the section about Marjane’s mental illness was glossed over quickly. It was such a powerful time of the story with her contemplating suicide yet it seemed like just another section of the overall story. Then how it jumped quickly to her being an aerobics instructor was jarring as well. I feel like this was intentional so as to show that this was just a phase and that she wasn’t going to be defined by her depression.

  3. Nicolette Romley Nicolette Romley

    I liked how you pointed out that Marji used childlike drawings to balance very serious subject matters. One would read Marji’s story in an extremely different way if it had been a classic novel as opposed to a graphic novel. Marji’s drawings help the reader see that present-day Marji is ok and is able to look back on these horrible memories and not be so negatively affected by them. Marji has moved forward in life and is able to look at her situation differently in hindsight.

  4. Alexander Bogomolov Alexander Bogomolov

    I also was surprised at how quickly and vaguely Satrapi addressed her suicide attempt. I disagree in that I did not think it was the most important part of the last section, but it is an extremely important moment in Marji’s life, after which she completely changes her image and outlook. I agree with your opinion that this section addresses important points about mental illness and living in a war torn region. Perhaps Satrapi glossed over the suicide attempt so quickly as a result of growing up around war and violence and being desensitized to death/suicide?

  5. Sara Messervey Sara Messervey

    I agree that Marji’s delivery of this scene was almost impersonal, and I think that’s another beauty of the medium of her work. This graphic novel allowed her to tell her story in comic strips that feel just far enough from “serious” to allow us to process these heavy scenes without over-internalizing them. I also was surprised by the sharp turn-around following her suicide attempt into self-care and aerobics within the same chapter. That’s something that probably only could have been managed within the format of a graphic novel.

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