Thursday, May 28, 2009

Grenouille Character Study/Development

Grenouille is the main character of the novel “Perfume”. This character has a heightened sense of smell and this novel talks about his journey in finding the perfect odor. As the novel develops the reader understands that Grenouille has a different personality to the one we are used to.  Here we will try to identify some key aspects of Grenouille and what they can signify.

Grenouille and his lack of smell

From the beginning of the novel, the main character; Grenouille was born without any human scent. For this reason people feared him subconsciously as the lack of scent gives the idea that he isn’t human ” He is possessed by the devil…he doesn’t smell at all” In the middle of the novel Grenouille realizes that “although he knew that this odor was his odour, could not smell it…He was deathly afraid”. The fact that Grenouille cannot smell himself scares him because the sense of smell is his greatest ability. Grenouille determines identity through smell and the fact that he cannot smell himself allows him to come to the realization that he does not have an identity.

Grenouille’s relationship with others/ outsider to society 

Grenouille doesn’t have any deep relationship with anyone throughout the novel. He does not care about their personality, looks, or intelligence but obsessed with smell. For this reason he kills his victim and captures their scents so he can have it to himself. His interaction with people is a minimum and he would rather be alone; “And then, left alone, at last – once again”. He only interacts with others to pursue his passion of odors.  People fear and dislike Grenouille subconsciously because he doesn’t have an odor. After Grenouille creates his human scent, people start to notice him more and accept him as a part of society but this is artificial. He notices after creating the perfect scent that he has no need for people to like him because he believes that other humans aren’t worth his time.

Grenouille as a tick.

Ticks are external parasites on mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Both males and females feed on blood. They are capable of transmitting a pathogen to humans, or may in some other way affect human health and sometimes cause death. Throughout Perfume Suskind describes Grenouille as a tick. This is because he seems to use every person he encounters and once he leaves they die. Grenouille uses his mother just to be born in the world and once Grenouille has no use for her, she gets executed. Grenouille also encounters Madame Gaillard and he feeds off her, grows under custody, but once that chapter of his life is over she ends up having a horrible death. In addition Grenouille also “uses” Baldini to learn the arts of perfume but once he has learnt everything he can and leaves, Baldini dies. When Suskind describes Grenouille he does so in a dark tone “ The tick has scented blood…now it let itself drop, fro better or for worse, entirely without hope”

Grenouille as a murderer

Grenouille was portrayed as a natural killer. His primal instinct was to do anything to obtain what he desired. He does not kill others for pleasure, but to obtain their scent. For this reasons his victims were only the ones who Grenouille thought had extraordinary scents. Since the reader knows that scent represents identity it could be said that Grenouille’s motive for murdering his victims is to acquire an identity. In addition, whenever he moves on from one person to the other an unfortunate accident occurs to the person which results to their death. This could add on to the symbolism where Grenouille is a tick and feeds off the “life” of people, just like ticks.


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