Dehumanization Of Children And Death In Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer

1208 words - 5 pages

Patrick Süskind, a German author, wrote Perfume: the Story of a Murderer in 1986 and sets the novel in eighteenth century France. Süskind dehumanizes children in order to remove emotion from death. He fulfills the concept by using aspects that tend to develop the beliefs and perspectives of a child. During a child’s life, they obtain influences from religion, abuse, self-value, and other children. All the aspects reflect in a child’s life and in Perfume, dehumanization links to those factors and eventually leads to the absence of sensitivity to death.
Religious figures, such as Father Terrier, reject the sanctity of children. Against his Christian principles, he determines that, “An infant is not yet a human being it is a pre-human being, does yet possess a fully developed soul” (10). Father Terrier belittles Grenouille’s humanity for the mere fact that he’s just a child. “A strange, cold creature lay there on his knees, a hostile animal” (9). Here, Father Terrier verbally strips the baby of all humanity therefore dehumanizing baby Grenouille. In religion, after a life has expired, the soul of the person returns to heaven. Father Terrier states that a child lacks a fully developed soul. According to religion, since a child lacks a soul, they cannot return to heaven. This idea depicts that their deaths are insignificant because they do not have the opportunity to go to heaven therefore, when death approaches the young children, they just disappear with nowhere to go.
Next in sequence with the novel, the absence of Madame Galliard’s human feelings during her childhood leads to her indifference towards death. Süskind introduces Madame Galliard next in the novel starting with her childhood. “But on the inside she was long dead. When she was a child, her father had struck across the forehead with a poker just above the base of the nose and had lost for good all good sense of human warm and human coldness-indeed, everly human passion” (9). By striking her with a poker, Madame Galliard’s father dehumanizes her because a person uses a poker exterminate filthy, lowly rodents or to tease inanimate firewood. When her father strikes Madame Gaillard with the poker, he then equates her to the lowly ranked objects, such as filthy rats and simplistic firewood. After the blow, she loses all her emotion and sensitivity that classifies her as human, therefore she has no real characteristics that differs her from rodents. Because Madame Gaillard’s father dehumanizes her, “she did not grieve over those who died nor rejoice over those that demanded remained with her” (10). She retains no human emotions or sensitivity, therefore she forms no true bonds with any other human being. Madame Gaillard relates to Grenouille through their absence of human characteristics and treats him as an equal. Her absence of human emotions and Grenouille’s abnormally advanced sense of smell connect in a sense that they’re characteristics that set them out of the realm of humanity or...

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