Comparative Essay on Perfume and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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Comparative essay
“Perfume” and “One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich” These two novels have seemingly very few points of similarity, with one book being much like an mental diary of a day in life, while the other is an epic following the events of a unique man on his path through his entire life. There is however at least one similarity; the main characters. They both put up personas when interacting with other people. Shukhov does this to cater to the hierarchy of the work camp, being a helpful friend towards people like Tiurin and most notably Tsezar. Grenouille also puts up a facade towards the outside world, and he has the same basic motive; getting something from his fellow man. Both Shukhov and Grenouille mask themselves to get privileges from others, perhaps more notably with Grenouille, who realizes that his lack of smell alienates the people around him and therefore uses a perfume to make himself more appealing for the masses, giving him more opportunities to acquire what he needs to produce his perfumes. Shukhov on the other hand has his mask simply forced upon him by the ways of prison life, having no other options if he wants to get by. This would imply that both characters are only out for their own good, which (with perhaps one or two exceptions) is also true. Despite this however there is a great difference in the empathy you feel for the protagonists. Shukhov is very much out only for himself, but that is easily forgiven since it is a necessity for survival in his case. Grenouille however is harder to sympathize with since he seemingly lacks a moral compass. This is arguably a result of his upbringing, with his mother trying to kill him at birth, and him being raised by a caretaker incapable of any emotions. Despite that knowledge it is still hard to relate to him simply due to the macabre nature of his crimes. And it seems like Patrick Süskind is deliberately making Grenouille unlikable, choosing a cute puppy as a victim of his...
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