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In Perfume:  The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind, I need help with the...

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adrianeelanora | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 8, 2010 at 6:14 AM via web

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In Perfume:  The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind, I need help with the following essay question.

The perfumer Baldini initially regards Grenouille with contempt. He explains, "Whatever the art or whatever the craft--and make a note of this before you go!--talent means next to nothing, while experience, acquired in humility and with hard work, means everything" [p. 74]. And yet Grenouille is able to concoct the most glorious perfumes effortlessly and with no previous experience or training. What do you think the novel as a whole conveys about the relationship between genius and convention, creativity and destruction, chaos and order?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 8, 2010 at 1:45 PM (Answer #1)

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The quoted passage above is directly contradicted by the fact that Grenoille makes very powerful and amazing perfumes with little or no experience whatsoever.  This seems to indicate that it is true genius that brings products and creativity to heights that are astounding.  Sure, if you have experience and "hard work" as Baldini says, you can be successful, and do well.  But, in order to be fantastic and extraordinary, there does need to be an element of talent involved.  Talent combined with hard work and experience yield the best results, and we see this as Grenoille gets better and better the more he learns about technique and the "how to's" of perfume making, and works hard to meld the perfect smells.

As in a lot of talents, it can overtake us.  Genius, without the proper bounds, can become destructive.  Grenoille became addicted to the power that his genius gave him, and, his obsession with his art became destructive and evil.  He lacked the proper restraints, channels, and moral background to prevent his talent from becoming a destructive force in his life.  His rough upbringing and ostracized social status played a role in his inability to keep his desires within proper social bounds.  Often, incredibl talented people become consumed with their gift, to the cost of other aspects of their lives.  Sometimes the talent destroys them--consider musicians who overdose, or artists who lose themselves along the way.  It's an interesting thing that happens.

I hope that those thoughts helped a bit; good luck!

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