Thursday, May 28, 2009



l   Patrick Suskind wrote Perfume in third person, omniscient. Suskind keeps a distance from Grenouille to create suspense, but also to prohibit the reader from feeling sympathetic to Grenouille.

l   However, Suskind sometimes writes as though he really is Grenouille. For example, in chapter 35, page 177, Suskind gives a very long description of the beauty of the woman, but in the last sentence of the description, he describes, “– her teeth like pearls and her limbs smooth as ivory – and all those idiotic comparisons.” Even though the narrator is omniscient, saying that the comparisons were idiotic makes the narrator sound like Grenouille, because Grenouille could not care less about her beauty, and probably would have called those comparisons idiotic as well.



l   In chapter 40, page 202, everyone’s suspecting the Gypsies, the Italians, the wigmakers, the Jews, monks of the Benedictine cloister, Cistercians, the Freemasons, the lunatics from charite, the charcoal-burners, the beggars, and the nobility to be the murderer. This is an example of dramatic irony and satire because while reading this whole chapter, the reader already knows who is responsible for all these murders.

l   In chapter 44, page 221 and 229, when Richis, his people, and his daughter were alone in the house with Grenouille, there is foreshadow and irony: “Tomorrow he would let her in on the secret, he (Richis) said, but she could be certain that everything that he was planning and doing was for her good and would work towards her future happiness.” As the reader, we know that happiness is the complete opposite of what Richis’ daughter and he will have after that night. That night at the house, Richis “slept truly splendidly for the first time in months” because Richis thought that his daughter and he were in the safest place on earth, when ironically, they were under the same roof as the person they were trying to avoid.

l   On page 229, Richis was “eager almost to find her still sleeping, wanting to kiss her awake once again – one last time, before he must give her to another man.” This is satire because we know that he won’t be able to do that since she is dead, and also because this other man that Richis is giving his daughter to is Grenouille, without Richis knowing that coming.


l Perfume is divided into four parts:

PART I: Concludes with the end of his apprenticeship to Baldini and departure from Paris

PART II: Deals with his years of isolation and his introduction to the enlightenment society of Montpellier by the marquis

PART III: Represents residence in Grasse while developing techniques for the manufacture of perfumes

PART IV: Details flight from the site of his scheduled execution to die as on the day of his birth among the odors of Paris

l   By dividing this novel into four parts, Suskind is emphasizing the skills that Grenouille is developing while he is on his journey to create perfumes. The beginning of each part also represent Grenouille meeting new people, society and scent. For example, in Part I, Grenouille encounters many characters such as Madame Gaillard, Father Terrier and Baldini. Grenouille develops new skills being with Baldini, which helps him throughout the novel. He also meets new scent of nature in Part II, where he does not smell human odor. However, towards the end of every chapter, Grenouille leaves the people he met in each chapter. For example, Grenouille leaves Baldini towards the end of Part I. By giving unfortunate events to people who separated from Grenouille, Suskind is emphasizing that Grenouille is the one bringing unhappiness, and that Grenouille is not "normal."

l   Perfume is a suspense novel. Although the reader knows that Grenouille is guilty, the reader wonders whether and how Grenouille will be brought to justice. The novel could also be a horror novel. While it is clear that Grenouille is obsessed and insane, he performs within the confines of eighteenth century French society in a clear manner. 

1 comment:

  1. I've been calling Suskind's narration as 4th person, although I'm beginning to suspect incorrectly so. Somehow I got the impression that he was but a lowly recorder of the events and the way he'd jump into and out of the character's heads (Baldini's speech about experience > talent) (Grenouille's elaborate explanation of his journey) I assumed he was both a part of and not a part of the plot- having his own opinion on each character while allowing their actions to be judged by the reader.

    but it has been years since I revisited the work. . .


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