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Compare the Development in Character of Laurent from Therese Raquin and Grenouille from Perfume

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Compare the Development in Character of Laurent from 'Therese Raquin' and Grenouille from 'Perfume' The two novels are very different in style and consequently the ways in which the protagonists are presented also differ. However despite this stylistic difference with Zola's naturalistic style creating believable and gritty characters while Susskind's post- modern approach is characterized by a far-fetched storyline featuring fantastic almost supernatural characters, some of the effects are remarkably similar. One of the ways in which the two novels could be said to be similar is the sense of detachment and distance the narrators of both books seem to create from their characters. In perfume the author directly identifies himself with the reader 'we as moderns, with are knowledge of physics' this use of meta-narrative creates an overall effect of separation from Grenouille and encourages us not to empathize with but instead to be repulsed by him This lack of emotional engagement is very important in the development of Grenouille as a character as it is an echo of the lack of empathy that Grenouille himself shows towards his victims and indeed anyone in the novel. Zola also creates a sense of distance between the narrator and the characters in Therese Raquin but not by the use of meta-narrative but by the language that he uses to describe them. ...read more.


Instead he is controlled by his erotic, animalistic desire for Therese. She responds favorably to this new powerful man and through this acceptance Zola tries to convince his audience that it is indeed the nature of the human condition to surrender to our more primal desires. If it were not then why would Therese choose the wild and exciting lover in a passionate affair over the steady, safe albeit boring life of a '1200 franks a week man'? Clearly she is driven by her animalistic desires. The characterization in Perfume is also typical of the style it is written in. However instead of being a novel from the naturalist school of writing this is a very post-modern novel. The priest Terrier rejects Grenouille on the basis of not having a smell even going so far as to cal him evil. This raises the idea of what is evil? And can it really be described as the privation of a smell? The nature and causes of evil and the battle of materialistic and dualistic ideas are two very prominent themes in the post-modern novel. I think it's justified to call Perfume a novel of dualistic values. ...read more.


In Therese Raquin evil stems from human 'corruption' of the soul, namely Laurent and Therese's lusts. However the opposite is true for Perfume. In this novel, if we accept my earlier idea that someone's scent is a metaphor for their soul, then evil is caused not by a corruption but by a lack of a soul and the desire to gain something which can simulate its effects. This something is the perfect perfume and the effects are to be accepted by and have the chance to be loved by normal members of society. In conclusion both novels draw upon the darker side of humanity to create their protagonists. Susskind's Post-modern style creates an almost supernatural fantastical character whose rejection from mainstream society turns him into a sociopath who desires nothing more than acceptance and will stop at nothing to achieve it. Zola on the other hand doesn't describe a dangerous outsider, but instead warns against the dangers of idleness and immorality by showing the dreadful consequences of acting in such a way. The truths of the character are brought home by Zola's naturalist believable style, making Laurent the opposite of Grenouille. Grenouille is a man who's shown as evil because he can't engage or be accepted by society, whereas Laurent is evil as the personification of a decadent one. Tom Gower 1493 words ...read more.

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