World Literature: Compare and contrast the changes in the character of Baldini in Perfume and Mr. Samsa in The Metamorphosis after they experience empowerment in their lives.

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Candidate Name: Yi-Chun Teng

Candidate Number: 001407-038

Compare and contrast the changes in the character of Baldini in Perfume and Mr. Samsa in The Metamorphosis after they experience empowerment in their lives.

 Empowerment is when one increases his capability and status within family and career. Often the great satisfaction stemming from empowerment lead those who experience it to become complacent, especially towards those who once held more distinctive positions. This is especially evident the character development of Baldini and Mr. Samsa in Perfume and The Metamorphosis. In Perfume, Baldini is an unoriginal perfumer whose fame is surpassed by the talented Pélissier. On the other hand, Mr. Samsa from The Metamorphosis is an unemployed man who relies on his son, Gregor to support the family financially; that is, before Gregor's incredible transformation. These two characters are both feeble and insignificant in the beginning. However, after they become accomplished and experience empowerment, they begin to belittle those previously more successful than them through their actions and thoughts. Yet despite the similar transformations, the authors have different intentions because Baldini and Mr. Samsa have opposite endings in the story - one dies and the other prospers. This is an intriguing aspect because the characters develop in almost identical ways although they are written by authors of different cultures. Thus, this investigation will examine the extent to which Baldini and Mr. Samsa are comparable in their changes after they are subjected to empowerment.

Baldini and Mr. Samsa are both initially weak in their appearances and actions. For example, Baldini is an incompetent perfumer who lacks confidence and originality before his transformation. This is illustrated by the dialogue in Chapter 10 when Baldini reiterates that he alone can create unique perfumes and Chénier concurs repetitively. For example Baldini says, “As you know, I create my own perfumes”, “I alone give birth to them [perfumes]”, and “I am thinking of creating something… that will cause a veritable furor”. This repetition of similar statements highlights the insecurity Baldini feels about his perfuming abilities. His frequent use of words and phrases such as “create” and “give birth” in contrast with his actual actions demonstrate his ineptitude and even cowardly nature.

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In addition, by changing the structure of this dialogue to a dramatic form, Süskind suggests that both these characters are aware that they are putting on an act. This is further supported by Chénier’s effort to please and conform to Baldini. When Baldini asks whether Pélissier’s “Amor and Psyche” is “vulgar”, Chénier responds with “totally vulgar”. Similarly, when Baldini claims that he “alone give birth to them [perfumes]”, Chénier immediately replies “I know”. Chénier’s automatic submissive responses indicate that these two characters are putting on a regular act. This effectively shows that Baldini routinely creates this dialogue to attempt to ...

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