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Grenouille's Superiority In Patrick Sskind's 'Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer'

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Danna-Layanne Elhassadi Literature Essay The novel, ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’, by Patrick Süskind, is set in 18th century Paris, based around the endeavours of a fishmonger’s bastard, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, who was bestowed with a superhuman sense of scent. As the main character, Grenouille acts as the pivot to the novel, and so forth the reader witnesses the ubiquitous nature of isolation and existentialism that occupies his life. Grenouille inflates his personal feelings of superiority by drawing grandiose and narcissistic conclusions on himself given his ability, and hence illustrates a separation between him and the rest of humanity, in which he is exceptional. This superiority thrives in the concepts of Grenouille’s God complex, insignificance of humanity and his command over them, as well as his internal feelings of entitlement to life and death. Süskind communicates concepts of superiority by applying acts of greed, tenacity and immorality to the nature of Grenouille’s personality. This is emphasised via the use of literary devices and techniques such as contrast, allusions metaphors and irony. As the novel progresses and Grenouille begins to comprehend the full extent of his olfactory senses, he establishes a God complex in which feelings of infallibility and superiority are foremost. ...read more.


This is so to emphasise insignificance of external characters and draws the reader closer to Grenouille. Süskind manipulates the reader by doing this, allowing the reader detachment from humanity in the novel, so they experience Grenouille’s exclusivity and importance. By adopting this technique, Süskind centralises the theme of isolation. Grenouille is not rejected from society so much so as it is self-inflicted – he prefers solitude with out interaction “And then, left alone, at last – once again”, this reiterates the theme of existentialism as he chooses isolation, rather than obliging to it. Superiority is apparent in this decision as he indulges himself in what he wants, not what he must do, contrasting with surrounding society. In relation to other characters, Grenouille acts as an agent of death. The few characters he interacts with either die undignified deaths upon their disassociation from Grenouille, or are not referred to again through out the novel. This reoccurring motif of death symbolizes him as an instigator of destruction, and also links to biblical allusions that denote him as demonic. This is supported by the metaphor likening him to a tick, ‘the tick, stubborn, sullen, and loathsome, huddles there and lives and waits. ...read more.


contents of the bottle and all at once he had been bathed in beauty like blazing fire.’ The simile comparing his beauty to a fire expresses the grandeur of his suicide – being the only character that ended their life in a dignified manner. This stresses the fact that his end came at his own command due to ‘his whole disgust for humankind’. Grenouille’s entitlement to life and death differentiates him from the rest of humanity, heightening his sense of superiority to proud peaks, so much so that he chooses to depart from a dimension not worthy of him or his power. ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murder’, is a novel by Patrick Süskind that conveys the importance of olfactory aptitude; Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is depicted as the prime character, possessing extreme feelings of self-importance and superiority. Süskind conveys these feelings through biblical allusions, comparing Grenouille to the Devil, highlighting his defiance, and furthermore, transcendence of God, and in this, his control over humankind and his entitlement to decide his own life and death. What might just be considered to be a hyper sense of scent is depicted as the utmost quality in this novel, conferring primacy and dominance through the sheer control. ...read more.

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