Compare Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi to the judicial process.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The comparison between both concepts is an intriguing one.  In reading Reading Lolita in Tehran, there are some elements of the judicial process evident.  The judicial process is rooted in the collection of evidence and seeking to understand a particular condition in as many ways as possible.  Through reading Nafisi's work, one is actually an active participant in understanding the condition of women in Iran. The reader is the jury or the magistrate, listening to the case put forth by the advocate. The insights that Azi gives the reader in both the plight of women under fundamentalist rule as well as the voice that literature can potentially provide helps in the "evidence collection process" about what life in Iran is like for those who endure silencing of voice.  There is sifting through the falsehoods and the presuppositions in seeking to establish that which is credible and valid, similar to the judicial process of understanding the nature of truth.

The judicial process is rooted in rendering verdict through careful analysis and deliberation.  As many sides as possible are represented in this process.  What is deemed as "true" and "valid" undergoes significant examination and reflection in the judicial process.  In a unique way, the value of literature is put to this test in Nafisi's work. While her primary function is to provide voice to women in Iran who experience the reality of silence, she is also seeking to validate the condition of literature, in general.  Literature is not seen as something that remains in the ivory tower of the academic world. Rather, Nafisi wishes to show how literature has meaning and relevance the lives of modern people who live in similar conditions to the characters in works of literature.  Nafisi puts the value of literature on trial.  This is seen not only in the literal trial of "the Islamic Republic of Iran against The Great Gatsby"  in her classroom, but in the way Azi wishes to make literature meaningful to the lives of the people around her.  Reading Lolita and Jane Austen is a way for Nafisi to make the plausible case that literature is meaningful to millions and has relevance to the modern setting.  Her endeavors are similar to the case that a prosecutor makes to the impartial jury or magistrate, suggesting that what they see as reality should be accepted as such.  Nafisi makes a compelling case against the interests of many who wish to silence both her and her philosophical values.  Accordingly, her reason for being in the world as a thinker is similar to the judicial process' examination for truth and veracity.

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Reading Lolita in Tehran

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