Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

by Patrick Suskind

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

Crafting an essay on the "Gap between supposed authority and reality" in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer


An essay on the "gap between supposed authority and reality" in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer can explore how characters in positions of power, such as law enforcement and the aristocracy, often fail to understand or control the protagonist, Grenouille. Despite their authority, their inability to grasp the true nature of his actions highlights the disparity between perceived control and actual influence.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Can you suggest an outline for an essay on "Gap between supposed authority and reality" in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer?

This well loved, critically-acclaimed novel by Patrick Suskind is a veritable wonderland of ironies, contradictions, and satirical portrayals of human behavior and societal hypocrisy. The notion of supposed authority versus reality is an interesting window through which to view this novel's themes and plot points.

The main expression of supposed authority in the novel is most eloquently and compellingly portrayed through the character of Grenouille. Having survived a brutal childhood, his single-minded conviction that he is special and brilliant drives him forward and leads to his success as a perfumer. He learns quickly and his natural talent for recognizing scents is unparalleled. Of course, the novel suggests that one reason for this natural talent is an unusual quality Grenouille possesses: he has no natural scents of his own. The suggestion is also that this oddity makes him somewhat less than human, and causes other humans to fear and shun him. So while Grenouille considers himself an expert and authority on human nature and rejects it outright, the reality is that he is apart from the realm of humanity because of his strange affliction (lacking scent, yet being unnaturally sensitive to smells).

Grenouille's quest to create the finest perfume known to humanity, which to him is the essence of a virginal girl, is a metaphor for his search to be human. But his emotional strangeness and lack of social skills make it hard for him to interact with other people, and he develops twisted views of right and wrong. His belief that he must murder a young girl in order to possess her essence is a rather disturbing metaphor that suggests what Grenouille really seeks is love and human connection. Grenouille's authority as a perfumer and calculated victimizer of women pales next to the reality that he is a lonely man incapable of finding love or companionship.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How can I craft a thesis statement on the "Gap between supposed authority and reality" in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer?

It can be tricky to write a good introduction, but writing an introduction can help you think through the rest of your essay before you begin writing.

The first thing you need to do, as you mentioned, is to come up with your thesis statement. Since your topic is "gap between supposed authority and reality" a good place to start is by re-wording that into an opinion. You can first try making it a yes or no question, such as "is there a gap between supposed authority and reality?"

Then decide if you want to answer "yes", "no", "yes, but" or "no, but". Answering yes or no is a good idea because it makes it easier to keep your writing focused, and an essay will be much more convincing if you don't waiver on your point.

The next step is to turn the question into your answer. This could start with something as simple as "There is a gap between authority and reality." And then you can rephrase to make it more unique and tailored to your individual voice.

Once you've got your thesis, I like to think of three points of evidence. What three points am I going to make to show why my thesis is correct? I start with very general ideas, and then my next step is to go through the story and find as much evidence as possible to defend each of my points.

I would suggest finding your evidence and thinking through your points before you begin writing your introduction, since it will help you be sure your essay is concise and your intro fits with everything you plan to say throughout the rest of the piece.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on