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Social setting in "Perfume" by Patrick Suskind

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Discuss the degree to which Suskind has offered a strong image of the social setting in the novel Perfume and estimate the importance of a sense of social context for the novel as a whole. In the novel Perfume Suskind offers the reader a vivid and comprehensive view of 18th century French society during the pre revolutionary period. While the main focus of the plot involves the development of the protagonist, Grenouille, the characters he encounters enable Suskind to present a satirical view of the Age of Reason by revealing the folly of individuals from different levels of French society. The novel may also be viewed as a fable which foreshadows the coming revolution which will tear apart the social hierarchy. As well as offering a satirical critique of society, the strong image of social setting lends credibility to the fantastical elements of the novel. This is achieved through a variety of narrative techniques, including vivid imagery. Suskind employs imagery to highlight the satirical nature of the work. ...read more.


The narrator takes the same slightly amused tone as he describes the shocking scene for the reader as though delighting in the impropriety. The narrative voice encourages the reader to take an objective view of the proceedings and reflect that this abandonment to sexual desire is triggered by something which they are not aware: the perfume. Another example of the way Suskind highlights the gullibility of human beings is illustrated through the setting described as Grenouille is pursing the scent of the girl from the rue de Marais : " And while from every side came the deafening roar of petards exploring and of firecrackers skipping across the cobble-stones, rockets rose in tote sky and painted white lilies against the black firmament. Thronging the bridge and the quays along both banks of the river, a crowd of many thousands accompanied the spectacle and aahs and oohs and bravos, even some 'long lives' although the King had ascended his throne more than 38 years before and the high point of his popularity was long since behind him. ...read more.


The church is also presented satirically. This is achieved in Suskind's characterization of father terrier. Father Terrier claims that he is a man of reason, but is part of the church. The church is not based on reason. Suskind mocks Father Terrier because he wouldn't take logic to its natural conclusion. He is also presented comically when he "hitches up his cassock". He is also outsmarted by the wet nurse because when she claims that Grenouille is a devil child he says that it is impossible for him to be the devil because he has not been exposed to the outside world. When he decides to smell Grenouille, he realizes that the wet nurse was right and he doesn't actually have a smell. As soon as he realizes this he gets rid of Grenouille. The presentation of the Marquis creates satirical view of the nobility and emerging interest in science. He is described as an "enlightened idiot". He believed the theory of the fluidium letale which is totally absurd. In conclusion, Suskind conveys the different social settings in perfume by using satirical views of the different levels of society ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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