Harsh Lifestyle That Grenouille

Humanity’s darkest truth shown through Grenouille in Perfume

The novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer tells the twisted tale of a broken boy living in the odor-filled dump of eighteenth century Paris. It follows Jean‐Baptiste Grenouille, a remarkably complex character that differentiates from others by background, term of goals, and the way the author decides to narrate him to the audience. Throughout the novel, he’s shown to be “malevolent” and seen as the devil when in reality, those around him are the real devils in disguise. The audience walk through his life more gradually, and when it comes to the other characters, it exhibits them mainly in their darkest times, and shows their darkest intention of inflicting harm on Grenouille or permanently affecting his life. As we go further more into novel, this concept unveils itself more and more. Characters varying from Grenouille’s mother to the tanner Grimal, Suskind essentially expresses that no individual can be truly innocent and can actually, be inhumane. It's demonstrated through Grenouille's character.

In Perfume, Grenouille is accepted to be evil by nature; be that as it may, the surrounding characters are no less inhumane than him. The turn of events essentially supports them, giving them the cash, higher power, or economic well being, thus they misuse Grenouille. With Grenouille being continually hurled place to place and regarded as a creature, as opposed to human, it drives him to see himself that way and view every other person in that capacity. Suskind demonstrates that every one of these occasions would unquestionably influence a man's identity when they reach their grown-up life. Subsequently, Grenouille, later on, winds up isolated from the world because of his awful youth.

Though his birth was miraculously grim, the first real cruelty inflicted upon him was when the wet nurse was begging the priest to take the baby away from her. His abnormality completely unsettled her and made her see him as some sort of devil. “I don't want any money, period. I want this bastard out of my house.” (Suskind 10) Suskind reveals what humans tend to do when in a difficult situation, especially when it has to do with someone else, is that we immediately turn the fault towards the other person involved. In this circumstance, the wet nurse considered Grenouille to be an evil presence in light of his absence of smell, and this frightened her.

Later on in the chapters, Grenouille is given to Grimal, a tanner, and becomes his trainee. Grimal, similar to the previous characters, doesn't see him any superior to household animal. Having Grenouille secured a room, to keep him running off, indicates he doesn't consider him to be an individual by any means. Suskind writes as follows "There he slept on the hard, bare earthen floor. During the day he worked as long as there was light-” (31) After everything he’s done for him, Grimal doesn’t seem to feel any remorse on how he treated Grenouille. Suskind further goes on with writing "When he was twelve, Grimal gave him half of Sunday off, and at thirteen he was even allowed to go out on weekend evenings for an hour after work to whatever he liked." (32) In result to these little rewards and a harsh lifestyle that Grenouille had faced, it drove him more to his psychopathic ways.

Further, in the novel, he starts to work with Baldini, and though he may have had major character defects, he was certainly is less resentful towards Grenouille than the others. Baldini views Grenouille only as a machine that makes the ideal perfumes, yet he feels creeped out by the company of him. What Suskind demonstrates is that humans are willing to do anything unethical if it means it will give them something in return, and they don’t care about who it affects. In this case, Baldini uses Grenouille for his nose and manipulation to get money. Though he tries to justify what he’s doing to Grenouille by saying that God will understand and not be mad at him because he too, thinks Grenouille is the devil. “What I’m doing is not right, but God will wink his eye, I’m sure he will.” (109)

Looking into the behavioral aspect of the novel, one of the truths that tend to overtake the characters is instinct. One of the greatest elements that is quite sinister about society is that humans can easily be puppets, taken over by instinct and this is seen visible in the novel. Specific parts in the novel where this conception is being expressed are when other characters try to brand Grenouille because of his lack of smell. Powered over by intuition, Grenouille’s mother (having labor in a fish market) covers him up in order to kill him or hide him permanently without hesitation. Even with Grenouille himself, kills his first victim to gain her scent without thought. Here we see that all members of society nonetheless of class or gender, are easily managed by instinct and thus allowing it get the best of us. While Grenouille achieves his attempts to capture all the virgins scents, he is also disgusted with this truth he learned about humanity, and in the long run, he ends up seeing the way it performs a massive function in his life too.

Though on the contrary, when his life came to a horrific end, for the people his death meant rebirth, appreciation for life. That life being something to look forward to and be hopeful about. His death was a turning point for change. In a way that his final hour brought an end to his suffering and marked the beginning of peace to the people. The perfume he invented finally gave it’s potential. In the beginning when his goal was to use the perfume for selfish reasons—to take control and deceive others, it didn't give any pleasure. Though when he intentionally soaked the perfume onto himself so that the people would desire him and even eat him, the perfume basically benefited society as though this event has somehow restored their sanity, and life became more friendly, more ‘humane.’ In other words, Suskind may have tried to show how Grenouille’s character could be a symbol humanity’s true form. All the worst attributes in humans and intentionally make perfumes symbolize as this type of cloak humans hide it with, by lies and deception.

As a outcome of the characters, they engraved attributes on Grenouille by how they treated him throughout the novel. In the result of these qualities, they enabled him to end up rationally separated and heartless individual. Suskind essentially conveys that even though people may guarantee an individual to be “abhorrent” or “inhumane”, that person truly is not more inhumane than anyone else, they’re just not as discreet.

The novel Perfume tells a twisted tale about a broken boy in a broken society. It portrays the tragedy of human existence through Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. From the beginning of his life all the way to the end, Grenouille is neglected and shunned by the rest of humanity. In spite of the fact that Grenouille may be seen as evil in the eyes of nature, it is he who brings out the real evil that lurks in the hearts of others. Ultimately, Suskind writes Grenouille as a image of truth, a drug of some sort that reveals humans for what they truly are.