Section 4 - Austen

              In the last section of her book, Nafisi focuses on the works of Jane Austen and reflects her life and the lives of her students upon these works.

              Nafisi focuses mostly on Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice, in this section. Pride and Prejudice is a romance novel regarding the life of Elizabeth Bennet and her problems with marriage and righteousness in a 19th century refined community. Elizabeth's happiness lies at the core of her relationship with Darcy, a wealthy bachelor, and a potential fiancĂ©. The rest of the community believes that Darcy is snobbish, and Elizabeth loathes and judges Darcy based on these outside beliefs. However, Darcy grows to love Elizabeth, and Elizabeth realizes that her first impressions of Darcy were wrong. She wants to make amends with Darcy, but under the public eye, it is hard for her to do so without becoming judged herself.

              Elizabeth and Darcy's tense relationship reflects the problematic relationships shared by men and women in the Iranian Republic. Nafisi recounts several of her students' stories, all of which involve such relationships. Many of her female students are confused about the concept of love, and how to handle a romantic relationship because the Islamic regime has redefined all things sexual. Modesty takes the form of a veil. The regime has branded harmless gestures such as laughing in public to be "seductive". Eye contact between a man and a woman is no longer friendly; it becomes guarded and leery. Love is no longer that of the heart; it has become a duty to spirituality. Such restrictions placed on these people confuses their own private wants with the expectations generated by the public and makes it hard for women living during the regime to establish a happy and healthy relationship with the opposite sex.

              Nafisi smoothly concludes her memoir with the discussion of this last book. With this book, Nafisi paints a collective portrait of the stresses that the Islamic regime has placed on its own people--whether it is a loss of identity, of dreams, or of one's relationships with other people. Towards the end of her memoir, Nafisi makes the pivotal decision to go to America to escape her suppressive surroundings. Such a decision reveals a deeper perspective of Nafisi's wants and that of her students. After hearing of Professor Nafisi's decision to leave, America becomes the elusive symbol of freedom for the students. America is the symbol that embodies their thoughts; their imaginations of a better place; which are made all the more tangible with the study of Western literature in their secret class. This fact brings the reader around full circle to the beginning of the memoir, and forces them to realize why Nafisi decided to create her secret literature class: to find freedom.

Happiness and Freedom
So close, yet so far...
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