In Perfume, the name of Grenouille made me think of Grendel by John Gardner. Is there a deliberate parallel here?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a very interesting question that I had never thought of before. I wonder whether there might be some kind of allusion to the earlier character, who, in the original Beowulf, is a symbol for evil and black magic. Let us remember that Grendel in the original epic is a character who is used to symbolise the black forces of anti-Christian evil, and his struggle with Beowulf therefore assumes allegorical significance. In addition, Grendel is shown to be a threat to civilised society, as his nightly excursions to Hrothgar's hall and his attempt to break the stability of this people group show.

In the same way, we can think of Grenouille as performing a similar function. He is a character who is one of the most shocking anti-heroes to emerge from contempary literature, arguably. He seeks to define himself away from society and only operates within it in order to carry out his selfish and murderous objectives. Whilst he does certainly not assume the same kind of allegorical significance as Grendel, the way that the novel focuses on his story, though still being told in the first person, is reminiscent of Gardner's Grendel. However, we never have the feelings of compassion and pity that we do for Gardner's creation of the monster in Perfume. Grenouille remains a character that fascinates and repulses us.

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