Thursday, May 28, 2009


She has no sense of smell, so she does not know that Grenouille has no scent. She is in charge of a boarding house, and her goal is to save enough money to have a proper death and funeral. She sells Grenouille to Grimal after she grows suspicious of him who is able to locate her money. Ironically, she loses all her money in old age, dies a miserable death, and is not even buried.

1. Simple women with no passion for life and lacks emotion:
  • "Madame Gaillard's life already lay behind her"
  • "a numbed women"
  • "she did not grieve over those that die, nor rejoice over those that remained to her"
  • "she felt nothing when later she slept with a man, and just as little when she bore her children" - can indicate a lacking material which may have affected Grenouille as he has never had the opportunity to be cared for by anyone remotely close to being a motherly figure
2. She is a strong women:
  • "when her husband beat her, she did not flinch"
3. She is practical therefore well suited to Grenouille's needs:
  • "Madame Gaillard had a merciless sense of order and justice"
  • "she showed no preference for any one of the children entrusted to her nor discriminated against any one of them"
  • "for little Grenouille, Madame Gaillard's establishment was a blessing"
4. She has no sense of smell:
  • "she had lost for good all sense of smell and every sense of human warmth and human coldness - indeed, every human passion"
  • "tenderness had become as foreign to her as enmity, joy as strange as despair"
  • The fact that she cannot smell can symbolize her disinterest in other people. Because this story is about smell, Madame Gaillard's lack of emotion is represented by not being able to smell. 
5. She had only one goal:
  • "she wanted to buy an annuity, with just enough beyond that so that she could afford to die at home"
  • "she wanted to afford a private death"
  • "she dreaded a communal, public death among hundreds of strangers"
  • Madame Gaillard's one and only goal was to save enough money to have a proper funeral, but this did not happen. Ironically, she had a miserable death, which suggest that Grenouille cause unfortunate events to characters who he spends time with. 

Madame Gaillard's character help to convey the themes of the overlooked reality of human nature. Her character is predominantly a representation of the destruction of dreams and her story appears to link to absurdism and the irony. She may also symbolize the fundamental selfishness of human beings, as she decided to sell Grenouille after she became suspicious. All Madame Gaillard "desired from life" was "her own private and sheltered death", away from the Hotel-Dieu, in command of her own life, with her own small house and her own independent existence, free from being responsible for orphans or for meeting social expectations. She wishes to die alone, away from human contact, which links to the fact that she cannot smell. Both of these characteristics of Madame Gaillard shows how she is disinterested in people around her, and only wishes to fulfill her dream. 

Madame Gaillard's defeated dream may represent the brutally ironic, stochastic nature of life, as it takes unexpected paths and defies the plans we make. This could link to absurdism, and how our life's goals and ambitions are ultimately futile.

Madame Gaillard also exhibits an underlying egoistical nature, which may symbolize the fundamental selfishness of human beings, with the logic that allows her make the decision to get rid of Grenouille with "not the slightest twinge of conscience"

1 comment:

  1. Whenever I am enticed to forge a better station for myself by zeroing in on the pursuit of wealth, I can't shake the tale of Madame Gaillard. In one day, all of her money became worthless under the revolution. . .


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