- Perfume – Commentary
Throughout the story “Perfume” by Patrick Suskind, Grenouille is presented as an outsider who is a product of both social and moral decay shown through his birth, description of the setting and description of Grenouille’s characteristics.
Grenouille was born in the malodorous fish market of Paris in the “18th century”, where the 18th century was a period of tragedy and chaos where foul smells were everywhere. Moreover, Grenouille being born in a “fish market” indicates the evil and unnatural nature of Grenouille as he is born in the worst smelling, filthiest and unnatural place in Paris. Even more, being born in a fish market in a “pile of fish guts” shows Grenouille as a victim of social decay where society and degraded so far to the point where babies mattered just as much as fish guts. Obviously, Grenouille’s future is seen to be full of sin and filthiness as seen from his birth place. Furthermore, from the moment Grenouille was born, he was endowed with a powerful sense of smell which he “used as a language” further suggesting his filthy and malicious future as the first smell he smelt was the disgusting stench of the fish market foreshadowing his disgusting future intentions. Using smell “as a language”, shows the difference between him and all other people in society making him an outsider. Similarly, like an animal, Grenouille uses sense of smell to communicate and judge his surroundings portraying his animalistic characteristics inside as well as the predator within him using scent to track prey as animals do. Clearly, Grenouille’s powerful sense of smell foreshadows his violent, animalistic future intentions. Conversely, through free indirect discourse, Suskind develops sympathy for Grenouille and portrays him as an outsider and a product of social decay. There is described to be a “stench barely conceivable” showing Grenouilles abundance of a smell setting him aside and different to “the people, the stairwells, the...
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