Grenouille Becomes God In Perfume: Patrick Suskind’s Perfume

1452 words - 6 pages

Patrick Suskind’s Perfume takes place during Enlightenment Period France, and follows the life of a perfumer, Grenouille, who possesses a particular sense of smell and traverses throughout France on a journey to create the perfect scent. Suskind embraces Enlightenment ideals when Grenouille challenges the power of God in response to Grenouille’s attainment of control over his destiny and the destiny of others in Perfume. Suskind portrays Grenouille as all facets of God, who embodies the characteristics of Creator, Savior, and Destroyer. The struggles Grenouille encounters throughout Perfume relate to the conflicts God must resolve throughout The Bible. Grenouille creates what, to him, appears pure and innocent, and through his creation he attempts to save those that have failed. When Grenouille’s goals come under threat, he retaliates and takes control of his own destiny; he destroys in order to ensure the fulfillment of his goals.
When Grenouille creates, he does so with the intent to make a pure and perfect substance as God does with his own creations. God creates Earth in seven days perfect and pure, with his own design (New King James Version, Gen. 1.1-31). Grenouille spends seven years in a cave where no smell can overwhelm him and he creates his own personal world of scent. After Grenouille has created his utopia, Suskind writes, “Grenouille the Great . . . and soon there was not a cranny left . . . he had not thrown a seed of fragrance . . . the seed began to germinate and sprout, bringing forth shoots to gladden his heart” (50). Suskind gives Grenouille godly control over a world that has nothing. Grenouille attempts to make his utopia, but even after seven years of creation, he soon realizes that he gains little in his process to achieve perfection. Through the realization Suskind makes Grenouille realize that in his world he defines imperfection and seeks to fix that. When Grenouille creates he benefits both society, and himself in the realization that everyone has mistakes.
When Grenouille comes up with an idea to perfect himself, he commits the ultimate sin, kill humans for scent. That scent embodies all that seems pure and perfect not only to Grenouille, but the population of France as well. Grenouille saves the people from their impurities (and his) through the sacrifice of his greatest creation, as God did with the sacrifice of Christ for the people’s sins. Suskind illustrates this comparison, “That he had stood there and unstoppered a bottle. And then he had sprinkled himself all over with the contents of the bottle and all at once he had been bathed in beauty like blazing fire” (98). In his final act, Grenouille cleanses not only himself, but the people in Paris as well. When he bathes himself in his perfume Grenouille, in effect, saves the people of Paris from their sins and provides forgiveness. In their purity the people feel exuberance and joy. So much joy in fact, that they consume the being that has given them their...

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