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An examination of the techniques used in the morgue scene in Therese Raquin and the fish market in Perfume will be carried out to see the purpose and effect these settings have on the readers.

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Fabio Faltoni An examination of the techniques used in the morgue scene in Therese Raquin and the fish market in Perfume will be carried out to see the purpose and effect these settings have on the readers. Both in Therese Raquin, written by Emile Zola, and Perfume, by Patrcik Suskind, the morgue and the fish market are presented as grotesque and really unpleasant environments. In both settings, the authors help reinforce this atmosphere by emphasizing and focusing their descriptions by using sensorial imagery. Smell and sight are the two main senses that make these narrations more realistic. In this essay, I will analyze how the use of sensorial imagery and the choice of words help to portray the grotesqueness of both scenes. The novel Perfume by Patrick Suskind, heavily relies on the use of sensorial imagery, especially smell, to make Paris, but more specifically the fish market a grotesque place. "The stench was barely conceivable... the streets stank of manure and the courtyards of urine." (pg 3). Suskind goes on describing how practically every corner of the city smelled of putrid things, including moldering wood, rat droppings, stale dust, congealed blood. Not only the stench came from animals or rotten food, it also came from the inhabitants of the city. "People stank of unwashed clothes, rancid cheese, sour milk and from their mouths came the stench of rotting teeth." ...read more.


Not only it is one of the reasons of why the citizens stink so much themselves, but it also intensifies the bad smell coming from the graveyard and the animals. Words like putrefying, rotting and fetid indicate that the environment is really unpleasant. In addition, these words are more than unpleasant, they are related to death. This possibly foreshadows that someone is going to die at the end of the novel. As it is possible to observe, the fish market scene is very detailed and descriptive. This is because Perfume is a quite recent novel, first published in the year 1985. Unlike in Therese Raquin, a much older novel, the author had to describe in greater detail the setting making it possibly for the reader to visualize and feel the unbearable smell. This is because our generation is not used to such putrid smell as the people in Paris were a long time ago Therefore, Suskind's highly detailed description helps the reader to nearly place himself in the fish market and feel the same unpleasant sensations as the characters did. As in Perfume, the opening lines in the morgue scene in Therese Raquin begin with the author writing that the smell was unbearable. "As soon as Laurent went in, he was sickened by a stale smell, a smell of washed flesh." ...read more.


However, when the slabs are empty, people go out disappointed, robbed. This concept can be compared to the fish market. Buyers go there to buy good fish. They will be disappointed when there is none left or if it is rotten and happy when there is. Unlike in Perfume, the descriptions in Therese Raquin are not as detailed. This is attributed to the fact that it was first published in the year 1867 nearly 120 years before Perfume. Therefore, Zola hadn't the necessity of elaborating his descriptions as much as Suskind had to; This was because the readers of those times lived those experiences and thus, Zola could merely report something briefly, and the readers would know what he was writing about. In conclusion, I see that not only the sensorial imagery and the choice of words help to create a grotesque setting in both novels, the environment that surrounds the settings as well as the features in it play a major role as well. For example, the cemetery nearby the fish market is important because it gives off a terrible smell, as well as it creates an ominous atmosphere, contributing to the grotesque of the place. Another thing is that in both places, the people are surrounded by a numerous amount of putrid flesh. In the fish market, the citizens are surrounded by the gut fish, while in the morgue, Laurent is surrounded by dozens of decaying dead bodies. These features help to makes both places grotesque. ...read more.

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