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How and in what ways are the female characters in Perfume by Patrick Sskind and Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman, portrayed differently?

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Overseas Family School Singapore World Literature Essay #1 How and in what ways are the female characters in Perfume by Patrick S�skind and Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman, portrayed differently? Word Count: 1357 Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the International Baccalaureate Diploma - Extended Essay 2008 - 2010 There is a significant difference between males and females that does not lie in their physical appearance, but rather in their respective nature. Literature confirms that males have almost always been perceived as the more dominant and independent gender, whereas females have been typified as vulnerable and dependent. Obviously, this is not always the case. In Patrick S�skind's novel, Perfume, this common misconception is accepted while in Ariel Dorfman's play, Death and the Maiden, it is challenged. In addition to being characterized through their own thoughts, dialogue, and actions, the female characters in both texts are also defined by the male characters in their respective stories. In Perfume, the hopeless murder victims of Grenouille are not only symbolic of female suppression, but also their lack of power. However, in Death and the Maiden, Paulina Salas' fight to bring her alleged rapist and torturer to justice is testament to female strength. While Paulina and the female characters in Perfume may, at times, share the characteristic of being hopeless and vulnerable, Paulina seeks to overcome her lack of power, whereas Grenouille's victims never have the chance and never try. ...read more.


she answers by saying, "From the fish" (S�skind 6). Later on, she openly confesses to the law that she allowed her child to perish and, consequently, she is decapitated and Grenouille is left an orphan. The fact that she, for no good reason, gives birth to her child in a place of disease and sickness, makes her exceptionally indifferent towards human life. Furthermore, instead of trying to somehow avoid the death penalty, she openly confesses and, in a way, commits suicide. Considering this, she not only eliminates a chance to keep living, but a chance to grow up with and take care of her own child. As a result, the first female character introduced in Perfume, unlike Paulina, shows a lack of volition and absolute indifference towards all life. As both stories continue, it is increasingly evident that, in their actions and reactions, Paulina embodies characteristics of independence and dominance while the female characters in Perfume are portrayed as hopeless and vulnerable. For example, in Death and the Maiden, when Paulina recognizes Dr. Roberto Miranda's voice and mannerisms as that of her torturer, she immediately takes action by tying him to a chair. "We're going to put him on trial, Gerardo, this doctor. Right here, today", Paulina explains to Gerardo (Dorfman 1.3). Gerardo, based on what Paulina tells her, provides a confession for Miranda that he would then give to Paulina. ...read more.


Thus, instead of being portrayed as the modern day equivalent of "the vulnerable kitchen girl" that is Grenouille's first victim, she is shown as a woman who defends her life and self-respect. In conclusion, it is evident that the female protagonist in Death and the Maiden, Paulina Salas, is portrayed as a female of power and volition, whereas the female characters in Perfume are illustrated as vulnerable and powerless. This is not only apparent in the initial stages of both stories, but all throughout them. Through the exchange of dialogue, it is made clear that Paulina has the willpower to argue and debate when necessary. She is not the kind of character that becomes recessive or passive when she is confronted with a tough situation. Conversely, Grenouille's mother illustrates the indifference and lifelessness of the female characters in Perfume. Furthermore, with actions and reactions, Paulina's character of power and intelligence is revealed while the vulnerability and foolishness of the female characters in Perfume is exposed. Ultimately, Death and the Maiden's portrayal of females is an extreme rejection of the common misconception of females mentioned earlier. Similarly, Perfume's portrayal of females is an exaggeration of the common misconception. While these depictions may be true when considering the time frame and situations they belong to, the truth, as we all know, lies somewhere in the middle. ?? ?? ?? ?? Name: Abhineet Kumar Center/Candidate Number: 000763-060 ...read more.

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