The novel Perfume by Patrick Suskind, narrates a story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the person who possesses an incredible sense of smell, however, doesn’t have a smell of his own, who in order to create the ”ultimate perfume”, that later will let him to be accepted by the society, commits a series of murders, the main focus of which are young and virgin females. By using various metaphors throughout the novel Perfume, Patrick Suskind paints a clear picture of the Grenouille’s thoughts as well as challenges our understanding and interpretation of the novel by letting us look at it from various perspectives.
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Ticks are parasites that could easily be find on animals, birds, and reptiles. Throughout the novel, Patrick Suskind draws a comparison between Grenouille and a tick in order to demonstrate Grenouille’s appearance and role in the society as well as his true intentions. ”The lonely tick, which, wrapped up in itself, huddles in its tree, blind, death, and dumb, and simply sniffs. . . it could let itself drop. It could fall to the floor of the forest and creep a millimeter or two here or there on its six tiny legs and die-it would be no great loss. But the tick, stubborn, sullen, and loathsome, huddles there and lives and waits” ( Suskind 25). The description of life that is lived by a stubborn and unstoppable tick is being compared to the life of Grenouille in order to underline the main character’s ability to survive on the smallest amount of nutrition and the lack of impact he brings to the world around him. Grenouille remains alive without knowing what is the true reason behind his existence.
Later in the novel, the metaphor changes its meaning. Now, a tick represents the way people view Grenouille. “The tick had scented blood. It had been dormant for years, encapsulated, and had waited. Now it let itself drop, for better or for worse, entirely without hope. ” ( Suskind ). Greenville’s ability not to care about anything makes it clear that he is not familiar with a concept of morality. He was not taught what is right and what is wrong, therefore it was bearable for him to take scents and lives from the people, just like a tick, a parasite that sucks the blood out of alive subjects without feeling immoral.
Not to mention, throughout the novel Patrick Suskind was attempting to highlight the thought that in society people are not always what they appear to be and in order to be successful at this task Patrick Suskind used a metaphor of Baldini and Grenouille. Baldini, a wealthy perfumer with no actual talent who “ learned the language of perfumery…by using the obligatory measuring glasses and scales” ( Suskind ). Grenouille, however, was a complete opposite character, born with a sharp sense of smell, who was able to produce great perfumes without measuring cups but with a presence of driving passion. Therefore, the point that Suskind was trying to make by making two men opposites of each other are to emphasize that in society there are people who are “book smart” and they do things because they learned how to do it, they know the exact formula, and on the other hand there are people like Grenouille, who have a passion, who create things due to the dedication and unstoppable drive.
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