Perfume: The Story of a Murderer tells the twisted tale of a broken boy living in a broken society. 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.
Looking into the behavioral side 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, controlled 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, Grenouilles mother (who birthed him in a fish market) wraps him up in order to kill him or make him invisible without hesitation. Even with Grenouille himself, kills his first virgin to gain the scent without thought. Here we see that all members of society regardless of class or gender, are easily managed by instinct and thus allowing it get the best of us. While Grenouille feels successful in his attempts to capture all the virgins scents, he is also disgusted with this truth 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 of life. That life being something to look forward to and be optimistic 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 created finally served its purpose. When his perfume was used for selfish reasons—to control and manipulate people, it served no joy, but when he intentionally soaked the perfume to himself so that the people would desire him and eat him, the perfume ultimately benefited society as they have become more civil after the event and life became more cordial, 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.
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.