Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

by Patrick Suskind

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

The irony of Grenouille's death being "out of love" in "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer."

Summary:

The irony of Grenouille's death being "out of love" in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer lies in the fact that he, a character devoid of genuine human connection, is ultimately consumed by a mob that believes they love him due to his intoxicating scent. This false love leads to his demise, highlighting the perverse consequences of his manipulative actions.

Expert Answers

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

In Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, how is Grenouille's death "out of love" ironic?

The ending of Perfume:  The Story of a Murderer is just as bizarre and unique as the rest of the story is.  To have Grenoille concoct his own death in such a painful and flashy way surely ended the novel on a memorable note.  In doing so, Grenoille gives admittance to several things. First, his talent is beyond comprehension--to develop a perfume that would drive people out of their rational minds, to commit cannibalism, is simply unbelievable.  Secondly, that that immense talent was dangerous, evil, and uncontrollabe, not only by him, but by anyone who came into contact with its full force.  Thirdly, Grenoille admits that he is miserable, and that the perfume has given him all that he could ever get out of it, and can no longer do him any good.  His experience with the crowded town and the orgiastic chaos that he caused to erupt was the pinnacle of his life, and there was nothing left to do--after that, his gift was just a burden, and he had no purpose in living anymore.

The irony in the statement at the end is multi-layered.  On a symbolic level, to take Grenoille out of the world is an act of love for everyone else who might have been endangered by his obsession with perfect scent.  To kill him is to love life, because he destroyed it.  Also, Grenoille wanted to die, and for the first time in his life, people did something for him--they showed him kindness by helping him to die.  It could be seen as an act of love for him.  On a more literal level, his smell was so enticing that they literally loved him as they consumed him, in the way that we love a good steak.  It sounds morbid, but there you have it.  The irony in all of these interpretations is that in "loving" him, they brutally murdered him.  That is not quite what one would expect.

I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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

How can the ending of "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer", where Grenouille allows himself to be killed, be interpreted? What ironies are implied by the act being "out of love"?

The killers did something "out of love" because Jean Baptiste's elixir is the essence of life and passion, and as a result this is the emotion that it caused in all those who came in contact with it.

Jean Baptiste's elixir is also the sole connection he has with the rest of the world; a world that has consistently pushed and rejected him of everything that would make his existence at all meaningful.

Not known to him, Jean Baptiste's search for this elixir, which was attained through taking the lives of others, will ultimately lead him to sacrifice his own life. He knew, however, that what he was doing was wrong, yet, it was also uncontrollable. He was attending only his basic instincts. These are the instincts that the elixir stimulated in the rest of the city the day of the big orgy: Love, passion, sex, savagery, desperation, and our primitive basic id.

Hence, Jean Baptiste was able to release the elixir of life at a price that he knew would cost: Life itself. The over-excited population, drunken with ecstasy, lost their inhibitions and became creatures of passion and instinct. Jean Baptiste knew this well, as he had become one as well. Hence, the ending is basically inevitable in his case.

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