How does Suskind present the character of Jean Baptiste Grenouille in the extract Perfume?
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the remorseless and inconceivably complex protagonist of Perfume is first and foremost presented as a narcissistic megalomaniac. In fact, the extract itself describes him as such, ‘in his narcissistic fantasies of old’ and his self-conceitedness is further exemplified when the author states ‘He was even greater than Prometheus.’ The fact that Grenouille see’s himself as comparable (and even better than) to a God helps to give an accurate depiction of his egotistical demeanour. Another example of his vanity is displayed in the title in which he gives himself, ...view middle of the document...
His twisted superiority complex disallows him from ever feeling anything but hate for other people.
Suskind uses a large amount of adjectives in his writing and in the sentence ‘He would have loved right now to have exterminated these people from the earth, every stupid stinking eroticized one of them..’ the rule of three which is present (stupid, stinking eroticised) is very profound, and reflects what Grenouille must perceive other humans to be like, as simple, bestial and carnal creatures. These adjectives are underlining the superiority that Grenouille feels towards other humans. The rule of three ‘stupid ,stinking, eroticised’ could also be seen as a motif, as the idea of humans being ‘stupid’ ‘stinking’ and ‘eroticised’ is a recurring theme throughout the novel. The word ‘stinking’ is especially poignant as the entire novel focuses on the power of scent, and how Grenouille, the scentless protagonist lacks one, and how this ostracises him from society.
The extract itself states that Grenouille feels ‘total contempt’ for the adoring Parisians who surround him, the word ‘total’ is very significant because it is such a powerful word, and it is suggesting that Grenouille’s contempt is absolute, unquestionable and unequivocal. Suskind also repeats the word ‘hate’ and ‘hated’, which just amplify the understanding we have of Grenouille’s hatred. Grenouille’s hatred and lack of respect for the humans stems from them being so easily controlled by the power of scent, and how he, lacking a scent is an outcast. In the extract there is an interesting character development; narcissist Grenouille loses any shred of humanity he has, his perfume gives him all the power in the world, but it cannot help him smell himself or know himself, and he comes to believe his life is pointless, and so in the climatic end of the novel he commits suicide.
To even further back up the way Grenouille is presented as a misanthrope, is the quote ‘..realize how much he hated them and for them, realizing it was the only emotion that he had ever felt’ this states that the ONLY emotion that Grenouille has EVER experienced is hatred and it just confirms the fact that Grenouille is a complete, utter cynic and misanthrope.
The protagonist, due to his dehumanizing and misfortunate childhood is desperate to experience love and to be loved. This is glaringly evident when Suskind states ‘ What he had always longed for-that other people should love him’, the verb longed assists the reader in realizing the depth as to how much Grenouille wishes to be loved and also evokes sympathy from the reader as it paints Grenouille as the lonely, troubled and misunderstood artist archetype.
Earlier in the extract, Suskind writes ‘-he had managed to make the world admire him. To hell with admire! Love him! Idolize him!’ The exclamation marks that Suskind uses with those short sentences makes the reader take note, they indicate the strong emotions that Grenouille is experiencing....