- Term Papers and Free Essays

Reading Lolita In Tehran

Essay by   •  June 2, 2011  •  701 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,449 Views

Essay Preview: Reading Lolita In Tehran

Report this essay
Page 1 of 3

Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran is a powerful memoir that gives an intimate glimpse into the lives of a group of Iranian women who struggle to survive as the forces of misogyny quickly close in. These women, who have the audacity to gather and discuss famous works of the literary canon with noted female protagonists, scrutinize the stories down to their very subtleties, drinking in all the sentences, as if their observations were a reflection of their own predicaments. These observations are conveyed with such brilliance and ease by Nafisi, that the reader stops viewing each event as it occurs and instead, starts to experience them. Ultimately, this memoir functions on three levels: as a book about a book club, an analysis of major works of literature and as discourse about the hypocrisies and issues that plagued their lives.

After returning home from the United States, Nafisi witnesses the Iranian revolution and the rise of fundamentalist Islam. She often talks about the two different Irans that she knows Ð'- the first Iran from a time of normalcy, when holding hands with the opposite sex and laughing out loud wasn't an offense and the second Iran accustomed to silent horrors like murder, arrests, and executions, all in the name of Islam. All the while, this transformation is charted by repressive attempts to make women invisible, by covering them from head to toe. Hiding behind the hand of Islam, the government adapts crazy ideas of immodesty and soon, simple matters such as stray hair and wearing nail polish, even under gloves become punishable offenses. And punishment, as we learn, is typically brutal.

To escape this violence, Nafisi immersed herself in her world of books where she cherishes the democratic ideals found in Western novels like Lolita. As a teacher, she must face students who have been polarized by the political forces that surround them and must defend herself against the idea of the West as corrupt and absolutely evil. One particular scene involves a mock trial where Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is brought up on ludicrous charges of immorality.

Reading Lolita takes a polemic turn when we discover that "Lolita" is the story of a twelve-year old girl whose finally escapes from her stepfather, a figure who wanted to erase her identity and coax her into a submissive figment of his imagination. The parallels between Nafisi's world of prejudice and bigotry and the themes of Lolita quickly become apparent, though Nafisi claims it not be allegorical.



Download as:   txt (4.1 Kb)   pdf (69.1 Kb)   docx (10 Kb)  
Continue for 2 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 06). Reading Lolita In Tehran. Retrieved 06, 2011, from

"Reading Lolita In Tehran" 06 2011. 2011. 06 2011 <>.

"Reading Lolita In Tehran.", 06 2011. Web. 06 2011. <>.

"Reading Lolita In Tehran." 06, 2011. Accessed 06, 2011.