Perfume: Story of a Murderer
Connection of Grenouille & his Greed to the Devil Samuel Cho IB Number: 0943 – #### IB Written Assignment Perfume: Story of a Murder by Patrick Suskind Word Count: Written Assignment From beginning to end in the book of Perfume: Story of a Murder, the author Patrick Suskind implements a lot of the evidence suggeting that the antagonist of the story, Grenouille, resembles the Devil. From his birth to his death, Grenouille proves that he is like the Devil, summed up by both the views made by his masters and peers, and by his actions taken throughout the story.
Also, greed plays a major role in both Grenouille and his victims throughout the story, which also helps link the accusation of Grenouille having the resemblance of the Devil, not physically, but mentally. To begin with the claim of Grenouille relating to the Devil, there are evidence strewn in the book of the devilish characteristics he has.
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One of the major evidence at hand is that Grenouille “…doesn’t smell at all” (Suskind 10). It was ideal back in the century that when one does not have a scent, that person is dead. With that being said, Grenouille can be linked to resembling death (along with death being linked to the Devil).
The text also shares that Grenouille grew up “cold and unfeeling” (21-22). Similarly to the physiognomies of the Devil, the Devil himself is icy at heart and has no remorse in anything he does. Also during Grenouille’s period, disease was the main problem for humanity at the time. As an infant, Grenouille survived “… the measles, dysentery, chicken pox, cholera, a twenty-foot fall in a well, and a scalding with boiling water poured over his chest” (20). During the 18th Century, the evolution of medicine was at a very meager state. Every day, there would be death throughout the cities, because no one knew the cure for the diseases.
Often the deaths would include young infants who would not have a chance of fighting off the disease because their lack of strength in the immune system. For Grenouille to have survived all the diseases listed above in the time period in which he lived, would only be considered miraculous without explanation. However, an interpretation can be made, that Grenouille didn’t die, because he was “Death”. After being rescued from the pile of fish heads and guts, Grenouille was sent to a wet nurse named Jeanne Bussie. Wet nurses are typically characterized as being the second mother to the child.
Back then some mothers could not feed their child with their milk; hence wet nurses were called upon to be in the position as a mother for them. To become and act as a second mother, that characteristic quality of these wet nurses would be to love the child has if it were her own. Their job is to nourish the infant and provide life to the child who is weak and helpless on its own. However, this is a very different story. Jeanne Bussie goes to the Parish Priest, Father Terrier, and discusses with him on handing over the child, because she thought of him as being, “… possessed by the Devil” (10).
The argument continues, until Father Terrier succumbs to the Jeanne Bussie and takes Grenouille in. In Father Terrier’s eyes, Grenouille was a sweet baby with rosy cheeks, however when he tries to smell him, he can’t smell anything from Grenouille, and instead described him as “a strange, cold creature lay there on his knees, a hostile animal, and were he not a man by nature prudent, God-fearing, and given to reason, in the rush of nausea he would have hurled it like a spider from him” (17).
The job of a Parish Priest (Minister of Care) was to provide to the sick, the dying, the rejected, and the disabled. Here, however, Father Terrier fears the baby, even after he stated that, “It is absolutely impossible for an infant to be possessed by the devil. An infant in not yet a human being; it is a prehumen being and does not yet possess a fully developed soul” (10). For a Priest (Worker of God) to think of Grenouille as being some creature, similar to the Devil, only goes on to prove the theory.
To move on to a deeper context of Grenouille having connection with the Devil, look at the masters Grenouille had during his young years and their fate after he left them. What can be interpreted here is that Grenouille and his masters can be connected with the Faustian Bargain (where a person sells their own soul to the Devil, for the luxury of the world). Grenouille can be seen as the dealer and the masters as being his vistim, which is ironic, since masters are usually seen with the higher status and the servants as only being the tools.
Each of the owners (Madam Gilliard, Grimal, Baldini, and Taillade-Espinasse) wanted Grenouille to lead them an easy life; after all, life back then was harsh without the innovation today. After each received their luxury, each died in an unexplained horror accident, leading to my claim of the Faustian Bargain. Also, there are connections made from the Holy Bible to Perfume: Story of a Murder, specifically where Jesus is in a standoff with the Devil in the forty day period where he is attacked mentally, physically, and emotionally by the Devil (KJV, Luke 4).
Grenouille’s first victim was Madam Gilliard. Madam Gilliard played a major role in Grenouille’s life, since she had taken him in and cared for him physically, but not emotionally and mentally. Madam Gilliard want in life is to die as an honored woman, not to be thrown into the pit with fifty other unknown people and sharing a grave with them. Usually, a caretaker for lost children will give up their own life luxuries (own death coffin, which is expensive) for the sake of the unloved children who have been broken down.
Madam Gilliard has no emotion for the kids, only providing them the minimum requirements for them to live (food, clothes, etc. ) She wanted to make sure her death was not to share the same fate as those who have died as an insignificant person. Her selling Grenouille and other children to hardship, such as the tannery, shows how cold a person can become in response to money, which was the only survivability back then. “…knew by normal standards Grenouille would have no chance of survival in Grimal’s tannery. But she was not a woman who bothered herself with such things” (Suskind 29).
Though she became successful in her business in her lifetime, in the end, she lost everything and died as one of the insignificant people, and thrown into a pit filled with other dead bodies sharing the same fate they all faced. Madam Gilliard and her need of money to survive connect to Jesus’s confrontation with the Devil on turning stone into bread. Jesus responded with a brief, but wise statement, “It is written, that man shall not live by the bread alone, but by every word of God” (KJV, Luke 4. 4). This statement issues a thought process that the objects (money) of this world is nothing compared to the life after death. Another minor character, but essential to the story and evidence of Grenouille’s connection to the Devil is Giuseppe Baldini (Perfumer). Baldini realizes the future he could shape along with his perfume shop with the immense help of Grenouille and his abnormal sense of smell. In conclusion, from the evidence shown in Perfume: Story of a Murder, it can be established that Grenouille is like the Devil. Though not physically in the form of the Devil, he is mentally like the Devil.
The characteristics of both share a similarity that can be seen very easily, even by the minor characters of the story. With evidence presented above, it is not deniable of Grenouille’s character. The theory and accusation of Grenouille and the connection to the Devil is upheld by the characters thoughts of him and his own actions that catch attention. Work Cited Suskind, Patrick. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Tr. John E. Woods. New York: Vintage International, 2001. The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York: American Bible Society: 1999; Bartleby. com, 2000. www. bartleby. com/108/.