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Mankind or Just Animals?

By Alijahsays May 23, 2013 1332 Words
Alijah Bolling
Taylor
IB English III: Pd 11
February 28, 2013
Mankind or Just Animals?
When an animal is born in its natural habitat, if it does not smell ‘right’, how it should or is born differently, it can be shunned from the rest of the animals, and even by its own mother. In some cases the mother may kill the offspring because of this. In Patrick Süskind’s novel, Perfume, Süskind uses mankind as an analogy to animals, to suggest that the people in 18 century France are more animal like than believe, by using smell as an acceptance factor for people. Thus revealing that people are animalistic and not as accepting as society believes they are. And also that humans are hypocritical and not at all theses noble creature they claim to be. In Perfume, the protagonist, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was born with no scent but had the ability to smell objects and scents even keener than an animal. He had an extraordinary sense of smell. Being born an orphan caused him to live with multiple characters, an orphan caretaker named Madame Gaillard, a tanner; Monsieur Grimal, and a perfumer whose name is Baldini. All of which shunned Grenouille because of his no scent or of his difference to society. After leaving these characters Grenouille perfects the art of perfume and making scents, so he sets off to create the perfect scent, that of a virgins. In order to make this divine smell, he must kill virgins and extract their scent. He eventually makes the world’s greatest scent and because of this is exonerated of murder charges. At the ending of the novel, Grenoullie drenches himself in the rest of the virgin perfume and is eaten by a group of people. Grenouille was born at a fish stall in rue aux Fers. After he was born, his mother left him in the fish guts to die because she did not want him. However, unlike the other four children Grenouille’s mother gave birth to, Grenouille did not die, he lived. The people of Paris saw killing and abandoning a helpless child as a treacherous act, thus leading them to kill Grenouille’s mother for committing this horrid crime. After this, he was sent to live with a wet named Jeanne Bussie. Ms. Bussie went to visit Father Terrier to give Grenouille to him. Jeanne Bussie noticed that Grenouille “doesn’t smell at all.” (Süskind 10) She claimed “he’s possessed by the devil.” (Süskind 10) Jeanne Bussie did not want to keep the child because he made her skin crawl and made her nervous. Even when Grenouille was a helpless baby, he was shunned because of him not having a scent, and even claimed to be not only possessed by the devil, but the devil himself. Upon hearing this insight that Jeanne Bussie told the Father, he claimed that these acquisitions were blasphemy and outrageous. And he also lectured Jeanne Bussie about claiming these acquisitions just because he ‘did not have a scent’ and was different. So the Father took the baby in with open arms. But even Father Terrier soon rejected Grenouille. After fondling the baby, Father Terrier noticed that “the child with no smell was smelling at him, shamelessly, that was it! It was establishing his scent.” (Süskind 17) This gave Father Terrier an eerie sensation and caused him to give Grenouille to Madame Gaillard to take care of the child. The other orphans at Madame Gaillard’s foster home immediately took a disliking to Grenouille and immediately noticed that he was different and had no scent. They tried to suffocate him and kill him his first few years at Madame Gaillard’s. Madame Gaillard eventually gave Grenouille to a tanner, Monsieur Grimal, because she became quite nervous when it came to Grenouille. She even believed that he had a second sight. All of these people shunned Grenouille either because he did not smell how he should have, or because he was socially different. People in society often take a dislike to people who outcast people who are different, without knowing that they often outcast people who are different from themselves all the time. Grenouille had no scent of his own, or even a simple generic human smell. He simple did not smell. And because of this non smelling factor, people never noticed him in public. He was, in some way, invisible to the public population. All throughout Grenouille’s life people would “pass him and take no notice to him whatever, not out of contempt-as he had once believed- but because they were quite unaware of his existence.” (Süskind 152) Since he gave off no smell, people rejected him without even knowing it. He was not normal, so the society never gave him a second glance, let alone a first one. While staying with the marquis de La Taillade-Espinasse Grenouille created a perfume that gave him a human scent, along with a personal odor. To create the generic human odor, Grenouille used cat feces, vinegar, ground salt, rotten cheese, a pork rind and other various “ghastly ingredients with alcohol.” (Süskind 150) Süskind chose to use these foul scents to represent humans because the hypocritical nature of human to judge someone, who is doing the same thing they are, shows how all humans are not the perfect people they think. After creating this human scent, Grenouille decides to test the perfume out by venturing into the public. “Grenouille sensed and saw with his own eyes…that he exerted an effect on people.” (Süskind 152) Once Grenouille released a scent that was normal to the people of France, they started to notice him. They actually saw him and wasn’t afraid of him because of the fact that they could not smell him. This shows the hypocritical nature of humans. The people of France murdered Grenouille’s mother for shunning him, yet these people did it for all of Grenoullie’s life until he smelled like one of them. When Grenouille was born, people treated him like how animals treat other animals that are different and do not smell correct, shunned him. Because Grenouille was treated as an animal as a child, he grew up to be one. “They young Grenouille was such a tick. He lived encapsulated in himself and waited for better times. He gave the world…no smile, no cry, no glimmer in the eye, not even his own scent.” (Süskind 22) Animals do not have the same moral values as humans. For instance, killing in the animal kingdom is not wrong; it is just how life works. So when Grenouille started to take on the same morals like the animal he was treated as by humans, he was shunned. Grenouille murdered 25 virgin women. When the public found out about his murderers they all wanted to kill Grenouille themselves. They hated that Grenouille killed these people and seemed to not be remorseful. But when animals kill another animal, other animals don’t cause an uprising, like the people of France did when they found out what Grenouille did. The society treated Grenouille like they were an animal and dismissed him because of his difference, but were upset and angered when Grenouille acted like an animal. All Grenouille did was act like how he was treated. Patrick Süskind is questioning society and the way society thinks. In Perfume, Süskind uses the fact that society acted like animals by dismissing Grenouille because of his non smell, then being hypocritical by accepting him after he smells ‘normal’ and finally hating Grenouille because he acted like how they treated him to convey that humans are not noble creatures, but are indeed savage animals that need to accept the fact that they are hypocritical and immoral. Society acts like an animal and turns their head to their actions, but when one single person acts like how society raised them, the popular population wants to call them animals and kill them. Even though the whole time society were real animals.

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