Perfume: the story of a murderer The question is the following : In the novel's climatic scene, just as Grenouille is about to be executed, he uses the perfume he's created to turn the...

Perfume: the story of a murderer

The question is the following :

In the novel's climatic scene, just as Grenouille is about to be executed, he uses the perfume he's created to turn the townspeople's hatred for him into love and to inspire an orgy which collapses class distinctions and pairs "grandfather with virgin, odd-jobber with lawyer's spouse, apprentice with nun, Jesuit with Freemason's wife--all topsy-turvy, just as opportunity presented" [p. 239]. Grenouille is revered and regards himself as godlike in this triumph. Does he enjoy this moment, or is it a hollow victory? What is the novel suggesting about the nature of human love? About order and disorder?

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The chaotic ending to Perfume can be analyzed as a metaphor of humanity and its intertwined and mysterious connections through scent, which represent the elixir (or essence) of life itself.

The opening of the scent is Jean Baptiste's only connection with humanity. All his life he sucked in the lives of many in search of this elixir, which would make his existence make sense. The nature of this elixir, being that it is the essence of life, is so powerful that it awakens every instinct and carnal nerve in the human body.

I am not sure that Jean Baptiste enjoyed this moment. I believe that he knew how the true nature of men is, and that he would have to sacrifice his own life as a result of his extreme search for the perfume. If anything, Jean Baptiste enjoyed releasing his passionate finding on to the world and, ultimately, combining himself with the world for the first time in his life.

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