hey, how are the olfactory senses used in perfume? in terms of grenouille and his ambition (to aquire the girls scents)

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grlucas eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Süskind paints a story of human motivations and aspirations inspired by scent: in Perfume, the nose knows all. The brilliance of this novel is that Süskind suggests, through the hypersensitive nose of Grenouille, that human notions of beauty and love — those objects of the highest aspirations of humanity — are simply responses to olfactory stimuli, the basest human sense.

Armed with his superhuman nose (ironically making him sub-human), Grenouille is able to use his knowledge of perfuming to distill the ideal of virginity in a bottle, a scent so potent that it reduces . . . well, I don't want to give away the ending.

Süskind's novel makes us consider that our highest endeavors might be motivated by our baser desires. This seems an apt concern in today's technologically sophisticated business of beauty, including fashion or, perhaps more relevant, pharmaceuticals. What happens when science can put lust and beauty in a bottle? What does that say about our reason and intellect when we can so easily be controlled by a potion or pill. Put another way: is something beautiful or pure when it's production and consumption is motivated by our basest cravings and desires?

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