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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is a 1985 literary historical cross-genre novel.

The novel explores the sense of smell and its relationship with the emotional meaning that scents may carry. Above all it is a story of identity, communication and the morality of the human spirit. The story focuses on Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a perfume apprentice in 18th-century France who, born with no body scent himself, begins to stalk and murder virgins in search of the "perfect scent", which he finds in a young woman named Laure, whom his acute sense of smell finds in a secluded private garden in Grasse. Grenouille (French for "frog") was born in Paris, France, July 17 of 1738. His mother gives birth to him while working at a fish stall. She has given birth four times previously while working, which were all either stillbirths or near-dead, so she cuts his umbilical cord and leaves him to die. However, Grenouille cries out from inside the pile of fish heads and guts, and his mother is caught, tried for multiple infanticide, found guilty and hanged. As a child, Grenouille is passed along different wet nurses, who give him away due to him being too greedy, and then is given to a parish church, which gives him to a wet nurse named Jeanne Bussie. She returns to the parish priest a few months later, saying that the child is possessed by the devil, as he drinks her dry and has no scent. The priest does not believe her, saying that there was no way that the child could be possessed by the devil. He sends the wet nurse away and cuddles Grenouille for a while. Curious, the priest, Terrier, leans in to take a smell. He expects to smell at least a little bit of scent, but he does not. Grenouille wakes up then and starts sniffing at the air, and Terrier feels as if the baby is sniffing at his soul, looking at his deepest secrets. Recoiling, he finds himself thinking of the baby as a devil. He runs out of the parish and across town, and gives the child to an orphanage on the outskirts of the city. Grenouille has an extraordinary power to discern odors. He navigates the orphanage using only his nose, and barely uses his sight. The other children do not hate him, but they did try to suffocate him several times without knowing precisely why. Grenouille grew up cold and unfeeling; he was unafraid of anything and took punishment easily. When the owner of the orphanage discovers that Grenouille can locate hidden money with his sense of scent, she became afraid and later got rid of him by apprenticing him to a tanner. Later in life, the orphanage owner loses all her money and dies in a disgraceful way that she was afraid of. Grenouille explores the city during his free time, and memorizes all the smells of Paris. He has no bias or preferences against scent and seeks out every smell and every variation of every smell that he can find. He seeks scents for the sake of knowing, and he had no purpose in gathering all the scents but to satisfy his greed for smells. Paris is unhealthy and dirty, with people and their filth cramped in the city's narrow medieval streets. One day, on a day when he had memorized nearly all the smells of the city, he is surprised by a smell quite unlike the dirty, coarse ones he is familiar with. Entranced, he traces it with his nose, and finds that the source of this scent is a young, virginal girl just passing puberty (1415 years old), who is slicing plums. Grenouille's heart starts beating; it is the start of a passion, but Grenouille, who has never felt anything like love or affection before, does not know what it is. Unnoticed, he gets closer to her, to get a better smell of her scent. The girl feels that something is not right and turns, sees Grenouille, and freezes in terror. Grenouille clamps his hand over her mouth. Scared, the girl does not fight back. Grenouille smothers her, with his eyes closed and concerned only with her scent. When she dies, he strips her, lays her down on the ground and smells her scent until it disappears from her body due to death. He does his best to remember every bit of her scent. This is the first time he felt a smell as being "good". In a happy daze, Grenouille returns to the tanners shop where he sleeps. He decides that he must become a creator of scents, the greatest perfumer in the world, in

order to create scents like the scent of the girl. He starts organizing the millions of scents he had gathered in his mental library into thousands of categories, such as fine, coarse, good, bad, fetid, and ambrosial. In his quest to isolate and preserve scents, he becomes apprenticed to a once great perfumer, Baldini, and proves himself a talented pupil. His superior power to discern and dissect scents helps create wondrous perfumes and makes Baldini the most popular perfumer in Paris. However, Grenouille's ambitions are unmatched by technology: he cannot isolate the scent of inorganic materials, such as glass and iron, with the alembic that they use. At this shock, Grenouille falls ill with smallpox, presumably psychosomatically as a reaction to his body giving up on life as his quest can never be fulfilled. Yet Baldini has grown to cherish Grenouille for his skills and on his deathbed Baldini reveals to him that there are techniques other than distillation that can be used to preserve such odors. At this news, Grenouille miraculously recovers and resolves to journey to the city of Grasse, the home of the greatest perfumers, to continue his quest. After Grenouille leaves, great misfortune falls upon Baldini and his shop is destroyed, where he dies. On his way to Grasse, Grenouille travels the countryside and discovers that he is disgusted with the scent of humanity. As he travels, he first avoids a city, then towns, then starts avoiding people that he can smell that are miles away. He reaches the Massif Central, and finds a haven where he is liberated from the smell of humans. In the morning he laps at a thin stream of water for a couple hours and eats whatever he can get, including moss. After that, he crawls into a long, deep shaft in the ground, as far as he can get, where he is shielded from all scent except for dirt, rock, and water. There he wedges himself against the stone and falls into a sort of meditation, first imagining himself as the creator of his world Grenouille the Great, "seeding" the world with seeds of scent. Later, tired from the act of creation, he retreats into a purple palace with a vast and grand library of scents inside his mind, served by scentless specters who bring him "vials" of his favorite scents while reading a book of all the scents he had ever smelled. And every day before he falls asleep he is brought the scent memory vial of the plum-slicing girl, and gets drunk with its splendor before sleeping. One day he wakes up from a nightmare, dreaming of being suffocated by a white fog. He knows that the white fog is his own odor, but he can't smell it. To shake off the confusion he examines his own scent for the first time. Going layer by layer from his surroundings and through his (now tattered) clothes and down to the grime and dirt he is covered in, he soon realizes that he has no scent at all. He is calm at this revelation, and squats in the dirt, simply nodding to himself. After a while, he dons his tattered clothing and leaves the mountain, after seven years of living there. Grenouille journeys to Montpellier with a fabricated story about being kidnapped, kept in a cave, fed by a basket on a rope, and released after 7 years without having any contact with anyone at all during that time. He catches the eye of the amateur scientist, the Marquis de La Taillade-Espinasse, who uses Grenouille to test his thesis of the "so-called fluidum letale". It was a basic theory that the ground and objects from the ground release a slow poison that causes aging, and that being away from the ground and in high altitudes would counteract that poison. The Marquis combines a treatment of decontamination and revitalization for Grenouille, and subsequently Grenouille looks like a clean gentleman for the first time in his life. However, Grenouille understands after the treatment, when he looks into a mirror, that the fluidum letale has no merit to it, and that his appearance has power. Grenouille in turn tricks his way into the laboratory of a perfumier. There he creates a body odor for

himself from ingredients including "cat shit", "cheese", and "vinegar", which imitates human odor. Previously, nobody would notice Grenouille due to his lack of scent, but his new "disguise" tricks people into thinking that it is the scent of a human, and he is accepted by society. This event tells Grenouille how foolish the other humans were, since they were fooled by a simple perfume that he had made, and turns his hate for them into contempt. He decides that he wants to become the God of the world by controlling the world with his perfume, as he had been God in the dreams in the mountain. Grenouille runs away from Montpellier, whereas the Marquis wanted to keep Grenouille for his experiments and lectures. The Marquis later disappears after he climbed a tall mountain without gear and clothes in a blizzard to prove his theory of fluidum letale. Finally moving to Grasse, Grenouille once again becomes intoxicated by the scent of a young girl transitioning through puberty to womanhood: Laure. He believes her scent to be greater than that of the plum-slicing girl, but he also believes that she is not quite mature and plans to wait two more years until he can capture her scent at its peak, when she is sexually mature and her scent is at its purest. From a perfumier's widow and a working journeyman in Grasse, Grenouille learns how to trap scent in oil, not just in water as he did with an alembic, and experiments with animals. He discovers that he has to kill the animals to get a scent that is not polluted with fear and feces. While contemplating the scent of Laure, he is struck by the thought that whatever perfume that he could make would eventually run out. He shakes in fear, then realizes that he has to mix Laure's scent with those of others to make the ultimate perfume; one which will polish the scent into an even greater perfume make him be worshipped as a god. He starts a chain of murders; silently killing 24 beautiful virgin girls that have just reached sexual maturity. The victims were always naked, shaved, and had their virginity intact, which scared the villagers. Eventually, after two years of murders have passed, Laure's father pieces together the pattern of murders and realizes that Laure, the most beautiful and beloved young woman in the city and just going through puberty, is most likely to be the next victim. He flees with Laure to hide and protect her, but Grenouille pursues them and kills Laure, capturing her scent. Grenouille is apprehended soon after completing his perfume and sentenced to death. On the day of his execution, the intoxicating scent of Laure combined with the backdrop essences of the 24 virgins he murdered overwhelms all present, and instead of an execution the whole town is overwhelmed by a mix of divine reverence and carnal passion, erupting into a massive orgy. The journeyman that Grenouille worked under is accused instead, and he is executed. Grenouille is pardoned for his crimes, blessed and revered, and Laure's father even wants to adopt him. Grenouille agrees, but has no desire to uphold his agreement. He had lived life in solitude, and found it unbearable. Likewise, he could not live among people. His only desire by then is to go to Paris to die. In Paris, Grenouille approaches a group of low-life peoplethieves, murderers, whores, etc. He is not wearing any scent, so they do not notice him. When they do notice Grenouille, it is when he sprinkles all of his perfume on himself. Overcome with a sudden carnal passion and love, even more so than the people of Grasse, they jump on him with the desire to keep him to themselves. Fighting for Grenouille, they draw knives and butcher him in 30 pieces, consuming his body. After the passion wears off, the people look around and feel slightly disgusted and embarrassed for having just eaten a human being, but they have an overwhelming internal sense of happiness. They are "uncommonly proud. For the first time they had done something out of Love."

Grenouille's mother Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was her fifth baby. She had claimed her first four were stillbirths or "semi-stillbirths". In her mid-twenties, with most of her teeth left, "some hair on her head", and a touch of gout, syphilis and consumption (tuberculosis), she was still quite pretty. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille Protagonist. Born July 17, 1738. Jeanne Bussie One of Grenouille's many wet-nurses. She is the first person to realize he has no scent and claims he is sucking all the life out of her. Father Terrier He is in charge of the church's charities and distribution of its money to the poor and needy. He first thinks Grenouille is a cute baby, but once Grenouille begins to sniff Terrier, the priest is highly disturbed and sends the baby to a boarding house. Madame Gaillard She has no sense of smell, due to being hit across the face with a poker in her younger years, so she does not know that Grenouille has no scent. In charge of a boarding house, her goal in life is to save enough money to have a proper death and funeral. Madame's poor sense of smell and ignorance about Grenouille's gifts, coupled with his assistance in finding her hidden money through his olfactory ability, caused Madame to believe he had second sight (psychic). She believed that people with second sight bring bad luck and death. Out of this fear, Madame sells Grenouille to the tanner, Grimal. She loses all her money in old age, dies a miserable death in the Htel Dieu (Hotel of God) and is not even buried after her death, but rather thrown into a mass grave. Children at the Boarding House They are repulsed by Grenouille and even try, in vain, to suffocate him with rags and blankets while Grenouille is asleep. Grimal A tanner who lives near the river in the rue de la Mortellerie. Grenouille works for him from age eight into his early youth until Baldini pays for him to be released. With this immense new income of money, he wastes it on alcohol in one go, allowing his drunkenness to cause him to fall in to a river and die. The Plum Girl Her natural scent is that of sea breeze, water lilies, and apricot blossoms; it is a rich, perfectly balanced and magical scent. She has red hair and wears a gray, sleeveless dress. She is halving plums when Grenouille kills her as his first victim. Giuseppe Baldini An old perfumer. Lacking a gift for it, he merely knows the art of perfumery. He owns a perfume shop filled with a strong amalgam of scents. The shop is so intoxicating that it scares away potential customers; Baldini is too dense to realize this fact. The shop is located in the middle of a bridge, the Pont-au-Change. He takes on Grenouille as an apprentice and becomes rich from the perfumes that Grenouille creates for him. He ends up giving Grenouille journeyman papers, which will help Grenouille in his future travels. After Grenouille leaves him, his house and warehouses plunge into the river below as the bridge finally collapses. Chnier Baldini's assistant. He is somewhat younger than Baldini. He knows Baldini is talentless, but still boasts Baldini's skills in hopes that one day he will inherit Baldini's perfume shop. Plissier Never actually appears in novel. He is only talked about because he is considered the most innovative perfumer in Paris, despite not having any formal training.

Taillade-Espinasse Marquis, liege lord of a town of Pierrefort and a member of parliament, is an amateur scientist who develops indulgent and ridiculous theses (fluidal theory), which he supposedly demonstrates on Grenouillefeeding him, providing him with new clothes and giving him the opportunity to create a perfume. The Marquis dies soon after Grenouille's "disappearance" while pursuing his fluidal theory by attempting to live alone on a secluded mountain. Madame Arnulfi A lively, black-haired woman of around thirty. She has been widowed for almost a year. She owns the perfume business of her dead husband and has a journeyman named Druot, who is also her lover. She hires Grenouille as her second journeyman. Dominique Druot Arnulfi's journeyman and lover. He is the size of a Hun and is of average intelligence. Grenouille works under him as second journeyman. Druot is later hanged for Grenouille's crimes. Antoine Richis Second consul and the richest man in Grasse, Laure's father. Laure Richis A beautiful red-headed girl, daughter of Antoine Richis. Her scent is the fragrance of Grenouille's dreams and is central to his plans of creating a perfume that will make people love him. The 51 chapters of the novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (1985) are unorthodox in that, while they are of varying lengths, most of them are very short. Some of these small divisions are under two pages long. This unusual arrangement creates an episodic feel for the story of Grenouille, and it distances the reader from the protagonist in a way that longer divisions would not. This is just as well for so repulsive a main character. Sympathy for Grenouille (except for his childhood) would be difficult to elicit in the reader, so the numerous divisions enhance this lack of sympathy and make one's feeling of horror at the unnatural personality of Grenouille more extreme. This novel has been cited as one of the most-read German novels since Thomas Mann'sBuddenbrooks. It certainly has had great popular appeal beyond the literary intelligentsia (Adams, "Das Parfm"), having been translated into twenty-five languages and selling millions of copies. A film version was released in 2006, and the lyrics to "Scentless Apprentice," written by Kurt Cobain for his band Nirvana, were derived from the story. Perfume has been both criticized and lauded for its extreme intertextuality, which can be recognized by educated readers. It builds on and draws attention to the characteristic style of so many other authors (in other languages besides English) that it has been thought both highly original and a kind of plagiarism. Recognition of the full resonances of the book, however, is not required for a reasonable level of enjoyment and understanding. The degree of satire perceived (and ability to critique) will vary with the reader, but a large part of the novel's popularity comes from the fact that the references need not be understood within the larger context of the narrative. It is thus a masterful work written on many levels. During the time when Grenouille lives--the mid-18th century--France is in the beginning stages of what is called the Bourgeois Liberal Revolution (Guerard 151). The old feudal chaos had been put into some kind of organization, and while the aristocrats still had great power and prestige they were not the primary controllers of government. Nor was the king, who still ruled "by divine right"--nor the church, nor the magistracies. The bourgeoisie (the middle class, mostly consisting of merchants and artisans) had made so much money during the first half of the century that they were now in a position to dictate much of the government's policy, especially those policies which governed daily life and trade. There

was also significant social fluidity during this time--the old castes were more porous--so particularly successful bourgeois, for instance, were able to buy or be granted titles. It is important to note that it was easier to be upwardly mobile in Grenouille's time than it would be a generation later. Nearer to the French Revolution there was a reactionary movement, (Guerard 153), and Grenouille's rise from foundling to journeyman parfumier would have been far more difficult in those later years. The degree of realism, too, varies greatly in the novel, with entirely believable and almost painfully realistic episodes (such as the sad story of Grenouille's childhood) juxtaposed with fanciful impossibilities, such as Grenouille's supernatural sense of smell. That the gritty realism is put next to seemingly silly fancies serves several purposes, most of all giving the story a framework of reality which makes the reader less distracted from the fantasy narrative. Since a person like Grenouille could exist with a heightened (though perhaps not as heightened as described) sense of smell, the premise of the story has enough reality to anchor it for the reader, while making the extremities of fantasy a flourish and even a metaphor rather than integral to the plot. That such things as in this story could happen, overall, is certain. An abused and friendless orphan could easily become a depraved fetishist and murderer, especially during a time in 18th-century France when law enforcement was underdeveloped. That such a murderer would have a sense of smell more acute than any bloodhound is not absolutely necessary to the progression of the plot, however. Thus the characteristic becomes something of a metaphor: the reduction of the human being to a function of their odors is perhaps a metaphor for the dehumanization of the unwanted orphan Grenouille. The fantasy only overtakes the plot at the very end, when Grenouille is set free for his crimes and then eaten by a mob. While the scene is possible, the likelihood of such a thing is low--and even lower than that of a man like Grenouille killing girls only for their scents. When nearly impossible things happen, the author makes no excuse. After all, this is a cross-genre novel where both historical realism and fantasy are represented. When Grenouille comes to understand that he is scentless and then realizes that this is what separates him from the rest of mankind, the central conflict of the novel is introduced. This, too, can serve both as the motivation for the plot and as an entry point into the nature of humanity. The world of scent, thought to be quite closed to human beings in comparison to many other animals, governs our actions more than we might suppose, posits Sskind. This idea provides, for many readers, an entirely new intellectual inquiry into one's public persona. It leads one to ask, "Does my own scent, consciously or unconsciously perceived by others, govern how people act toward me? Is my scent unique?" In the world of Grenouille smell certainly affects others, for he is able to elicit the most extreme reactions from people just based on the scents he creates. This novel thus can also reveal or explain something of the irrationality of human behavior. To the extent that we believe we make most of our decisions about others using reason and conscious choice, the existence of prejudices based on smells perceived unconsciously throws this view into chaos. This kind of foundation-shaking existentialism is a powerful feature of Sskind's work. Major Themes Black humor

Only a darkly ironic person would baptize an infant whose mother had been decapitated with the name of Saint John the Baptist (who also was decapitated). Perfume is infused with such multi-leveled black humor. It is true that Jean-Baptiste was a common name at this time, but the irony of little Grenouille having to bear in his name his mother's shame for his entire life goes beyond situational, transient humor into the realm of cruelty, with the sins of one's mother constantly revisited on the son. The ridiculous demises of almost all the people who touch Grenouille's life (Madame Gaillard, Grimal the tanner, Baldini, Druot, etc.) are meant to be funny, too, and in many cases the deaths are particularly apt. That Grimal, the drowner of Grenouille''s humanity, drowns in the Seine, and Baldini, smugly asleep in his bed in the house on the ritzy Pont-au-Change, is done to death by his own haughty address, are somewhat fitting ends for these less than perfect people. The apogee of black humor, however is saved for the end of the marquis de La Taillade-Espinasse, who walks to the top of a mountain in a snowstorm, lightly clothed and raving about fluidum vitale. Sskind perhaps most of all shows with this humor the deadly effects of hubris. Emotionally or mentally inadequate people Madame Gaillard, who was brain-damaged by a blow from her father in her childhood, is entirely incapable of emotion. She is also unable to smell anything, so Grenouille's lack of personal scent does not bother her. Thus she raised him for years, and with her as a role model, Grenouille did not have much chance to learn to feel regard for human beings or to have a normal emotional development. Already hampered by the horrors of his birth, his strange fascination with his sense of smell, and his regrettable looks, he was not cared for with any kind of love or affection. His basic needs were taken care of (as if he were a domestic animal), and Madame Gaillard gave him away as an apprentice to Grimal as soon as the parish stopped paying his room and board. Thus, Grenouille was never taught that he was a valuable human being, and therefore his psychotic tendencies were magnified. Grimal the tanner also treats Grenouille no better than a domestic animal. The tanner locks Grenouille in a closet to make sure that he doesn't run away. While Grimal does not actively try to hurt Grenouille, he does not treat him much like a human being either. The tanner also seems to feel no regret over how he treats Grenouille, even after Grenouille shows himself to be a good worker and survives anthrax. When Baldini is willing to take him off of Grimal's hands (for a good price), Grimal can't wait to get rid of Grenouille. Baldini, too, has serious character deficiencies, though he certainly is kinder than either Madame Gaillard or Grimal. Baldini treats Grenouille only as a source for perfume invention, and he feels extremely uncomfortable in the presence of the young man, yet he is too concerned with appearances to treat Grenouille cruelly. Yet another mentally limited character is the Marquis, whose ridiculous theories aboutfluidum vitale reduce every human consequence to invisible vapors. This man, whose intellectual arrogance keeps him out of touch with reality, treats Grenouille as a proof of his theories. Surrounded by people with deficiencies and socially deficient himself, Grenouille learns that the only reason anyone will notice him is that they think they can get something from him. Hatred of humanity

Grenouille's hatred of humanity, while not surprising (considering his upbringing and early adulthood), is so complete that he retreats to the farthest point he can to get away from the smell of human beings. This takes the form of a seven-year hermitage on the top of a volcano in the Massif Centrale in what amounts to solitary confinement. He retreats so far into himself that the only thing that matters to him is his own very pathological fantasy life. To call this a hatred of humanity is an understatement; Grenouille tries to be the only person in his world. Once Grenouille has concocted his ultimate scent, which is the scent that inspires love from all other human beings, Grenouille finds that he has no use for this love. It doesn't fulfill him. Since he has no more "(scent) worlds to conquer"--as Alexander the Great was said to weep when there were no more countries for him to conquer and add to his empire-Grenouille is ready to die. Nothing in this world other than the pursuit of scent has any attraction for him; no human being holds any interest or love for him (or he for any of them other than scents to collect), so he decides to die. His final rejection of humanity and life goes beyond a hatred for human beings and extends to himself. Grenouille is perhaps the perfect misanthrope. Grenouille as agent of death It is not only the murdered victims who suffer at Grenouille's hands; the main actors in Grenouille's life tend to come to bitter or sticky ends, and the novelist usually tells the reader of those ends just as that actor is leaving Grenouille's life. Madame Gaillard, who raised Grenouille adequately to the age of eight but gave him no love or affection of any kind (because she was incapable of it), dies in complete indignity in a public hospital, which was her greatest fear. Grimal, the tanner, who had treated Grenouille abominably by making him do very hard labor and locking him in a closet to sleep, died on the night he "sold" Grenouille's apprenticeship to Baldini. The science-obsessed Marquis, after Grenouille leaves him, decides to go to and sit at the top of a 9,000-foot peak for three weeks to prove his fluidum vitale theories, and also to return himself to the age of twenty--leaving his companions in a blizzard, never to be found and most likely to die from exposure. Baldini the perfumer, too, dies when his house falls into the river after the bridge collapses, the very night after Grenouille leaves him. This trope suggests that Grenouille carries a curse. He is practically inhuman and almost a demon, scentless, unloved, and friendless. It is true that he gives to the world his marvelous perfumes, the one kind of blessing he can ably bestow. Everything else he touches withers or dies. Grenouille, a truly person without sympathy for or from anyone beyond his childhood, is a profound force of death and destruction. Children as subhuman Several times in the novel, children are referred to as subhuman, almost human, or not quite human. This notion, allegedly espoused by the Church at the time (Father Terrier mentions it to Jeanne Bussie), seems to have its roots in the idea that very young children do not have free will--particularly in choosing to obey or disobey God. It was not only that children did not have the rights of adults and adults thus had responsibilities toward them. Although children were protected by law from being murdered (such as Grenouille's escape from infanticide), and they were provided for up to a point by the state and the church (in establishments like Madame Gaillard's), they were not considered full human beings like adults were. This lower view of children can be seen in the treatment of apprentices, who were children as young as eight (or younger) used in a fashion similar to domestic animals.

Another reason for treating children as less than human was the likelihood of death in infancy or childhood during the Ancien Regime. It may have seemed unwise to invest too heavily in beings who were so likely to die quickly. Orphans like Grenouille were the most extreme example of so-called subhuman children, since they had no family to love them. This rejection of what one might call equal rights for children, held by many people around Grenouille in his childhood, undoubtedly contributed to his later psychosis. Theory of the sovereignty of scent This novel takes as a premise that scent controls a large portion of human behavior, usually on an unconscious level. It is important to note this premise, for the entire internal plot (but not necessarily the external plot of Grenouille's social actions) turns on this idea. It is not only his supernatural sense of smell that is the focus of Grenouille's life, but the idea that humans' scents are integral to their humanity. Grenouille is subhuman, both in his own mind and, at least unconsciously, in the minds of others, because he has no personal odor. When he discovers this personal characteristic in his hideout in the Massif Centrale, he is shocked and somewhat horrified. He has never met another human being with no smell; that he cannot smell himself, despite his marvelous nose, seems monstrous to him-demonstrating why he seems monstrous to everyone else. A corollary to the premise that scent is nearly tyrannical--determining a great deal of how people treat each other--is that adolescent girls have the best scents. This idea is further refined with the perception that beautiful girls have better scents than other girls, and with those of the red-haired type having the finest. It is also maintained that these teenage female scents are appealing to everyone, not simply heterosexual males. This last idea is perhaps the most fantastical notion of all. It creates the possibility of the ending, in which Grenouille, drenched with the scents of the dead girls, becomes so appealing that the Paris mob eats him. Seeing others' lives as mere snippets The tiny chapter divisions break the plot into very small pieces, reminiscent of some of Thomas Mann's works. This is perhaps the most striking formal feature of this novel. These small chapters often, but not always, follow the plot of the vignettes that comprise the novel as a whole. That they are so short implies that the people described therein are trivial. In some cases, they are treated in a short vignette and then never referred to again in the book (such as the story of Jeanne Bussie). These little snippets of life serve several purposes, one of which is to poke fun at the mostly pompous, self-important, or woefully inadequate characters who populate this book. The snippets also reinforce Grenouille's egoism. Nothing which does not concern Grenouille, and the gratification of his sense of smell, matters to him. Therefore, the situations of the people around him are not explained fully, for they matter only in how they affect Grenouille's life. For many, only their scent and their beauty matter. That the story of the sorry demise of the larger actors in Grenouille's life (especially the cruel or ridiculous, such as the story of Grimal's death, besides Madame Gaillard and the Marquis) are related, after Grenouille has left their lives for good, only enforces this feeling of egoism. It is a subtle device used by a good writer, but it also mimics many of our own interactions in real life. Many people play only bit parts in our lives, and we never know them fully or inquire into the story of

their lives. The small chapter divisions with the presence and treatment of these "bit players" simulates this phenomenon. Grenouille ultimately brings no good to anyone, and he is the primary actor of the story. After he has passed out of a life which he has touched, that life generally ends horribly, or at least in despair. This, also, serves to distance the reader from the other characters in the novel (and, somewhat with disgust, to draw us more toward Grenouille). We cannot imagine the other characters going on to live prosperous lives; the evil Grenouille destroys all he touches. He therefore commands all our attention and, if not our sympathy, then our fascination. Grenouille is born to a fishwife mother in Paris in the early eighteenth century. He is delivered behind his mother's fish stall and is immediately abandoned to die. The baby, who strangely has no scent, cries out and is saved by onlookers. His mother is executed for this attempt and for her previously successful infanticides, leaving Grenouille, a bastard, alone in the world. He is brought up in a sort of home orphanage, tended together with several other orphans by an emotionally damaged woman named Madame Gaillard. At the age of eight he is given in apprenticeship to a tanner, Grimal, where he is almost worked to death. After having survived anthrax, and thus becoming more useful in a tannery, he is treated marginally better and is given some slight freedom. Grenouille roams the city of Paris, searching for new scents, because he has the most gifted nose in the world. On one of his olfactory jaunts around the city, Grenouille finds the most delicious scent he has ever encountered, that of an adolescent girl. He finds her scent from a long distance, and he follows it until he is very near her in the dark. She senses him, and as she turns around to see him he strangles her. He then takes the opportunity to smell her scent to his heart's content. It is the happiest he has ever been. He leaves the body and feels no remorse. One night he delivers some goatskins to Baldini the perfumer. He begs the old man to let him work for him, after showing the master that he has a wonderful nose and a great memory for mixing perfumes. Baldini is so impressed with the scent that Grenouille creates that he buys his apprenticeship from Grimal. While working for Baldini, Grenouille makes the best scents Paris has ever smelled, and Baldini becomes very rich. Grenouille falls ill again, but he survives once Baldini tells him there are other ways to distill and preserve scents to be learned in the south of France. This news revives Grenouille, and he lives. Eventually he leaves Baldini to go learn distillation methods in Grasse. On the way to Grasse, Grenouille makes a detour for seven years to a mountain cave, where he ponders the scents he has known in his life thus far. Descending from the mountain looking like a wild man, he is rehabilitated by a slightly mad pseudo-scientist nobleman who believes that he is a prime example of a victim of fluidum letale. After a farce of a scientific "proof" is enacted, Grenouille slips away and goes to Grasse. There he works in a small perfumery, learning different methods of distillation, but especially cold effleurage. He now begins to distill scents other than flowers, such as inanimate objects. He moves onto animals, finally realizing that he must kill them in order to get their scent properly. Now he has a goal; he has found a scent to match the girl he killed in Paris, another red-head here in Grasse named Laure Richis. He devises a plan to create a scent of her essence, but he needs other scents to buoy up and extend her scent, to make it truly wonderful.

Grenouille thus proceeds to kill twenty-four teenage girls in the region of Grasse, and he distills their scent by cold effleurage. Finally he murders and obtains the scent of his prize, the best-smelling girl, Laure. He is caught for his crimes but, by using the master scent he has created, he is believed innocent by all and released. Feeling depressed and suicidal because there are no greater scents to be discovered or distilled, Grenouille goes to Paris to die. He douses himself with the master scent and is then devoured by a mob. Quotes and Analysis And even as he spoke, the air around him was saturated with the odor of Amor and Psyche. Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it. Baldini and Grenouille in Baldini's shop, p. 82 This passage expresses a main idea of this novel: a person's odor (or, in Grenouille's case, his utter lack of it) affects others' opinions more than any other sensory perception. It is necessary to believe this idea if the reader is to believe that it was the scent of the adolescent girls who Grenouille killed, and not their appearances, voices, attitudes, personalities, or social contexts, that made them lovable or desirable. Grenouille distills, literally, the essence of very young womanhood in his final scent--at the cost of twenty-five young lives. It is this scent that enables him to escape from execution, even though he has duly been convicted of the crimes. If the reader accepts this point of view, it means that, to a significant extent, we live in a chemical world that we only dimly perceive or understand. That is, the overriding reason that we might like or dislike another human being is odor--not shared interests, visual cues, or more intangible notions such as goodness or virtue. This is one of the main reasons Perfume veers away from realism into the realm of fantasy. "Impossible! It is absolutely impossible for an infant to be possessed by the devil. An infant is not yet a human being; it is a prehumen being and does not yet possess a fully developed soul. Which is why it is of no interest to the devil. Can he talk already, perhaps? Does he twitch and jerk? Does he move things about in the room? Does some evil stench come from him?" Father Terrier to Jeanne Bussie, p. 10 While this is the first time it is signaled that Grenouille has no personal smell, this passage also indicates a prevailing idea among the people of Paris at time of Grenouille's birth: that infants were not fully human beings. Grenouille's mother even reflected that sometime, maybe, she would be married and have some "real children"(p. 5). She did not believe that her illegitimate children were real, since she could not support them and she did not have a husband to give the children a name. Father Terrier argues from his theological position, which might seem no less cruel, that infants are, even when baptized, not complete souls. This idea of the inhumanness of infants, especially inconvenient ones, means that babies like Grenouille can be given to loveless tenders like Madame Gaillard, and then worked nearly to death when apprenticed, as Grenouille is treated by Grimal. It is ironic that a society like this one has a set of laws protecting infants like Grenouille from infanticide, and

even executing mothers who attempt it (such as Grenouille's mother), but still has the belief that infants are not yet human beings. This passage shows how Grenouille was marginalized and considered subhuman from his birth. The very fact that she thought she had spotted him was certain proof that there was nothing devilish to be found, for the devil would certainly never be stupid enough to let himself be unmasked by the wet nurse Jeanne Bussie. And with her nose no less! With the primitive organ of smell, the basest of the senses! As if hell smelled of sulfur and paradise of incense and myrrh! The worst sort of superstition, straight out of the darkest days of paganism, when people still lived like beasts, possessing no keenness of the eye, incapable of distinguishing colors, but presuming to be able to smell blood, to scent the difference between friend and foe, to be smelled out by cannibal giants and werewolves and the Furies, all the while offering their ghastly gods stinking, smoking burnt sacrifices. How repulsive! "The fool sees with his nose" rather than his eyes, they say, and apparently the light of God-given reason would have to shine yet another thousand years before the last remnants of such primitive beliefs were banished. Father Terrier, thinking, pp. 14-15 This is Aristotelian thinking on Father Terrier's part. Aristotle (termed "The Philosopher" by the medieval scholastics) wrote extensively on the senses in animals and humans, and determined sight to be the highest and most important of the senses (see Aristotle on biology). Baser senses, such as taste and smell, were more developed in some lower animals, and therefore were considered to belong more to the body than to the spirit. The assertion, too, that early human beings were unable to distinguish colors has its roots in ancient literature. Early examples of literature (such as the poems of Homer) contain relatively few color terms compared with later examples (a famous quotation being the "wine-dark sea" of the Iliad, which seems not to distinguish between purple and deep red and blue, no matter how poetic the image). This idea that color perception has changed in biologically modern humans has been rejected, however, but a theory has arisen that gradations in color terminology emerged with the ascendancy of market cultures. But Father Terrier would have taken the old, accepted notions of the hierarchy of senses, denigrating judgments based on smell. The author here is noting the short shrift the olfactory powers have gotten throughout history, especially in comparison to sight. The cry that followed his birth, the cry with which he had brought himself to people's attention and his mother to the gallows, was not an instinctive cry for sympathy and love. That cry, emitted upon careful consideration, one might almost say upon mature consideration, was the newborn's decision against love and nevertheless for life. Under the circumstances, the latter was possible only without the former, and had the child demanded both, it would doubtless have abruptly come to a grisly end. Of course, it could have grabbed the other possibility open to it and held its peace and thus have chosen the path from birth to death without a detour by way of life, sparing itself and the world a great deal of mischief. But to have made such a modest exit would have demanded a modicum of native civility, and that Grenouille did not possess. About the young Grenouille at Madame Gaillard's, p. 21 In this quotation, Sskind turns the idea of Father Terrier on its head; instead of asserting that infants are not yet complete people, as the church and Grenouille's mother might have said, the author here attributes powers of understanding and volition to the newborn Grenouille that the baby could not possibly have had. A newborn making a "mature" decision is ridiculous, and this suggestion makes

Grenouille all the more monstrous. While it is horrifying enough to have circumstances in which a child's cry is the death warrant of its own mother, to say that the child willed such a thing is even more monstrous. Later, the author makes clear that it was not an adult decision but a "vegetative" one. Nevertheless, Sskind still calls it a decision, laying guilt and blame on the character of Grenouille from the beginning. In addition, that the circumstances of Grenouille's birth meant that he could not have both love and life makes clear that Grenouille will be warped from the beginning. This preposterous overestimating and undervaluing of young human life is characteristic of the grievous errors that the people of this society make. There is nothing of the modern idea of innate human rights and understanding of children's needs and actual abilities, and the lack of this idea creates circumstances such as Grenouille being the cause of his mother's death and his surrender to uncaring people such as Madame Gaillard and Grimal. This kind of societal folly is illustrated again in the story of the Marquis. While Grenouille is certainly a pathological personality, the world around him is full of so many illogical beliefs and contradictions that the little perfumer's single-mindedness seems sane in comparison. Which is why the faon de parler speaks of that universe as a landscape; an adequate expression, to be sure, but the only possible one, since our language is of no use when it comes to describing the smellable world. The author describing Grenouille's retreat, p. 125 This is an important element in this novel, revealing the paucity of vocabulary and modes of expression in English (and in the novel's original German as well) for scents and their effects. Compared to visual or even auditory phenomena, olfactory events and states are underrepresented or left entirely undescribed. Sskind, a writer with a gift for description, is left with the few words and expressions in the language for describing Grenouille's fantastic scent world, and he has to make forays into the realm of the visual (such as describing some scents as colors) to find enough material to fully show the reader Grenouille's experiences. That this situation points out that the world of scent is similarly unknown to humankind is possibly a bit of a clich for a novel, but the point is nevertheless well made. He was after all only an apprentice, which was to say, a nobody. Strictly speaking, as Baldini explained to him--this was after he had overcome his initial joy at Grenouille's resurrection--strictly speaking, he was less than a nobody, since a proper apprentice needed to be of faultless, i.e., legitimate, birth, to have relatives of like standing, and to have a certificate of indenture, all of which he lacked. Grenouille after his recovery from syphilitic smallpox, p. 106 This is another example, among many, of the ways Grenouille was marginalized his entire life. PreRevolutionary France was not a meritocracy, and not even Grenouille's genius at perfume-making could erase the ugly, and socially unacceptable, circumstances of his birth. Everything about Grenouille underlines his lack of humanity; his ugliness, his lack of desire for love, his extraordinary ability to smell, and even his name all separate him from the rest of the characters in the novel. The fact that Baldini does help Grenouille get the papers of a journeyman in the end is only so that Baldini can be rid of Grenouille forever. Because of his lack of scent, we are led to believe, Grenouille never makes a real connection with another human being so that someone would do something out of love for Grenouille. In order to get such reactions, Grenouille finds later, he needs to manufacture an artificial scent tailored

to the reaction he wants. No one sees Grenouille as human, not even himself; the reader is left to wonder whether this perception has been correct or not. The more Grenouille had become accustomed to purer air, the more sensitive he was to human odor, which suddenly, quite unexpectedly, would come floating by in the night, ghastly as the stench of manure, betraying the presence of some shepherd's hut or charcoal burner's cottage or thieves' den. And then he would flee farther, increasingly sensitive to the increasingly infrequent smell of humankind. Thus his nose led him to ever more remote regions of the country, ever farther from human beings, driving him on ever more insistently toward the magnetic pole of the greatest possible solitude. Grenouille on his journey to Grasse, p. 118 This manifestation of Grenouille's pathological slant of mind shows that his mania is increasing. Having been freed of the horrible scent-soup of Paris, he finds that he prefers the smell of nothingness (humanly speaking, which is like the smell of himself) to the smell of his own kind. Our fascination with Grenouille's choice may be predicated on the idea that it is normal for human beings to want association with each other; for one not to want it, as shown by Grenouille's desire to get as far from the smell of people as possible, is to be less than human. That we still sense some sympathy for Grenouille, who has been so ill-used all his life by his fellow human beings, leads the reader to question if it is valid to think that someone is less than human because he chooses to live as an extreme hermit. We are familiar with people who seek out solitude: penitents, failures, saints, or prophets. They retreat to deserts, preferably, where they live on locusts and honey. Others, however, live in caves or cells on remote islands; some--more spectacularly--squat in cages mounted high atop poles swaying in the breeze. They do this to be nearer to God. Their solitude is a self-mortification by which they do penance. They act in the belief that they are living a life pleasing to God. Or they wait months, years, for their solitude to be broken by some divine message that they hope then speedily to broadcast among mankind. Grenouille's case was nothing of the sort. There was not the least notion of God in his head. He was not doing penance nor waiting for some supernatural inspiration. He had withdrawn solely for his own personal pleasure, only to be near to himself. No longer distracted by anything external, he basked in his own existence and found it splendid. He lay in his stony crypt like his own corpse, hardly breathing, his heart hardly beating--and yet lived as intensively and dissolutely as ever a rake had lived in the wide world outside. Grenouille in his cave in the Massif Centrale, p. 123 The idea that a being like Grenouille can live "dissolutely" by himself (which seems to be a contradiction in terms) conjures up the similarly diseased fantasy lives of other serial killers. But what makes this psychotic personality crave only its own company? Grenouille exhibits such massive egoism that he can only find happiness in creating a world in which he himself dominates. Nothing in the world, outside of his head, gives similar satisfaction. Not even the final scent he makes out of the odors of the twenty-four girls brings Grenouille the happiness that he had while living alone in the cave. A personality so warped as to find nothing truly pleasurable outside the bounds of his own mind is perhaps one of the manifestations of insanity; or, perhaps, as Sskind seems to posit, one of the manifestations of evil.

One Sunday in March--it was about a year now since his arrival in Grasse--Grenouille set out to see how things stood in the garden behind the wall at the other end of town. He was ready for the scent this time, knew more or less exactly what awaited him . . . and nevertheless, as he caught a whiff of it, at the Porte Neuve, no more than halfway to the spot beside the wall, his heart beat more loudly and he felt the blood in his veins tingle with pleasure: she was still there, the incomparably beautiful flower, she had survived the winter unblemished, her sap was running, she was growing, expanding, driving forth the most exquisite ranks of buds! Her scent had grown stronger, just as he had expected, without losing any of its delicacy. What a year before had been sprinkled and dappled about was now blended into a faint, smooth stream of scent that shimmered with a thousand colors and yet bound each color to it and did not break. And this stream, Grenouille recognized blissfully, was fed by a spring that grew ever fuller. Another year, just one more year, just twelve more months, and that spring would gush over, and he could come to cap it and imprison the wild flow of its scent. Grenouille, catching the scent of Laure, pp. 189-190 Here Laure, the red-haired daughter of M. Richis, is compared to a growing tree. To compare her scent to a "sap" dehumanizes her completely. Laure is, to Grenouille (and, perhaps, to everyone around her) only the product of the desires she incites in others. For Grenouille especially, Laure is only a source of a scent, which develops and changes in a predictable pattern over time He monitors her and knows, somehow, that the changes which will take place within the next year will convert her scent to its peak of desirability. Grenouille, as usual, takes no notice of her humanity, as he takes no notice (or does not believe in) his own humanity. Showing the poverty of scent-words in language, Sskind has to resort to describing the scent in visual terms, here in terms of color. But to eat a human being? They would never, so they thought, have been capable of anything that horrible. And they were amazed that it had been so very easy for them and that, embarrassed as they were, they did not feel the tiniest bite of conscience. On the contrary! Though the meal lay rather heavy on their stomachs, their hearts were definitely light. All of a sudden there were delightful, bright fluttering in their dark souls. And on their faces was a delicate, virginal glow of happiness. Perhaps that was why they were shy about looking up and gazing into one another's eyes. When they finally did dare it, at first with stolen glances and then candid ones, they had to smile. They were uncommonly proud. For the first time they had done something out of love. The Paris mob, after eating Grenouille, p. 255 This scene at the end of the novel, in which the mob consumes Grenouille because of the irresistible lure of the scent of the twenty-five young women, combines, interestingly, the two main human desires for food and for sex. If the smell of the young women is the distilled essence of desire, in excess (for Grenouille covers himself with the scent, rather than just dabbing it on as he does when he escapes from his execution) it creates an irresistible desire to eat the person wearing it. This, perhaps, alludes to an underlying idea that all human desires are really one--or, on a darker side, the desire for such complete dominance expressed in actually eating the other. Sex and food are necessary for life and the continuance of the species, but they are combined and perverted by this artificial distillation of scent into one of the greatest of human taboos, cannibalism. It could be viewed as a lesson on the base desires of humanity and their ultimate darkness, or as a musing on the nature of desire in general and its folly.

Chapters 1-7 The book begins, In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages (3). So Grenouille is introduced, even before his birth, as an abominable person. He is born to a fishwife mother, his father unknown, behind the stall of his mothers fish stand. His mother plans to leave him in the garbage on the ground, like she had done with several of her illegitimate children before Grenouille, but the infant cries out and is found by bystanders. With this act Grenouille ensures the death of his mother. The authorities arrest Grenouilles mother, and she is charged with attempted murder. She freely admits that she allowed her previous four children to perish, so she is convicted of multiple infanticides. This leads to her execution by guillotine, the standard method of dealing with mothers who killed their babies in pre-Revolutionary France. The events save Grenouilles life but leave him completely alone in the world. The only person who could have loved Grenouille was taken away without even holding him. Because of a series of bureaucratic difficulties, and not because of any religious feeling or duty, Grenouille is given over to the care of a cloister. Father Terrier is the priest in charge of Grenouille, and the child is baptized and given the name Jean-Baptiste (it is not noted whether the good Father meant to be ironic or not in giving the child the name of a beheaded saint). The baby Grenouille is given into the care of a wet nurse named Jeanne Bussie. She is his third, as the other wet nurses have rejected him because he takes too much milk. With a too-greedy baby a wet nurse cannot nurse more than one child, and that deprives her of her livelihood. So, even among paid wet nurses, Grenouille is unwanted. Jeanne brings Grenouille to Father Terrier, complaining not only that he is too greedy for milk, but also that he is without the normal smell of babies and therefore must be from the devil. Father Terrier scoffs at this idea, but after the child is left with him, he too begins to feel that there is something odd about the infant. After the child Grenouille makes sniffing noises, suggesting that he is trying to smell the priest, Father Terrier takes the child directly to a woman paid to bring up children in her home. He pays for the childs care a year in advance, and he leaves quickly, never to return. At Madame Gaillards, Grenouille is given the necessities of life; he is kept warm, meagerly fed, and reasonably safe. Yet, he is given no love of any kind. Madame Gaillard is mentally disabled, having been hit on the head as a child, and has no emotional life whatsoever. When he is at the age of eight, the cloister stops paying for Grenouilles upkeep, and Madame Gaillard brings Grenouille to the tanner, Grimal, who takes him as an apprentice? Grenouille knows immediately that Grimal is a man capable of thrashing him to death for the least infraction. His life was worth precisely as much as the work he could accomplish and consisted only of whatever utility Grimal ascribed to it (31). Grenouille is worked very hard at the tanners, is treated like a domestic animal, and is locked in a closet to sleep. He contracts anthrax but, astonishingly, he survives it. This makes him more valuable to Grimal, as he is now immune to the disease, which is invaluable in a person working with animal hides. Grenouille is eventually allowed a small amount of time off each week to roam the city of Paris.

Grenouille comes alive on his walks in the city, literally following his nose. He smells all the various smells of the city and even his first whiffs of real perfume. While he appreciates the individual components of the perfumes he smells, he comes to a value judgment, at this early age, that these scents are rather coarse and ponderous, more slap dashed together than composed, and he knew that he could produce entirely different fragrances if he only had the basic ingredients at his disposal (36). Analysis Jean-Baptiste Grenouille's name explains much about his character. Jean-Baptiste is French for John the Baptist, the apostle who was sometimes mistaken for the Messiah Jesus, but who was but the messenger of the Messiah, in the Christian tradition. Famously, John was executed on Herods orders by decapitation (Matthew 14). Thus John went to his grave without his head, as Grenouille's own mother did for her infanticide, lacking the anatomical part which most identifies a unique and wholly human being. Grenouille is without a doubt a marginalized, insignificant, and unwholesome human being. That he is dehumanized by his society, however, does not make him any less human. But the people around him, and he himself, seem to believe that because of his lack of scent he is not really a human being, and his name reflects that. He is the outcast, the other, the handicapped, the incomplete. The word grenouille in French means "frog". This insignificant creature is, significantly, tailless. This is one major difference which frogs have from most of the rest of the animal kingdom. The name, again, is apt (setting aside the vulgar slur on French nationality), for Grenouille is different from all others. He is not a real human being, or so the author seems to suggest, for he seems to be some sort of sociopath with no feelings for other people. Perhaps most of all, he is without a personal smell. This distances him from other human beings; Grenouille is not human. (By being snatched from an infant death and causing the death of his mother, Grenouille seems to lack a central element of the humanity that all people share with Christ, in Catholic doctrine.) He is missing an important part of what constitutes humanity. His lack of a personal smell is parallel to John the Baptists eventual lack of a head--and to the frogs lack of a tail. Grenouille is profoundly different; he quite alien and, ostensibly, markedly less than other people. The circumstances of Grenouilles birth make him worse than a foundling. His mother fully intended infanticide and was caught by the authorities only by Grenouille's chance cry. As an illegitimate child with no known father, he was already disadvantaged, but since his mother was known, Grenouille has to bear the name of a decapitated criminal all his life. He is burdened with the worst kind of parentage, although after his disposal at Madame Gaillards, no notice is taken of his antecedents for some time. The extraordinary assertion of the narrator, too, that Grenouille has the power of volition at his birth sets Grenouille apart from all other people. It is implied that Grenouille chose to cry out, and thus chose his own life and the end of his mothers. That any volition is possible in an infant is contrary to most modern thinking, and the possibility of putting blame on an infants choice seems ludicrous. But, in this novel, Grenouille is gifted and abominable and, it appears, hungry for new scents even as a nursling. The author likens Grenouille to a tick, able to live for a very long time on one drop of blood, waiting and waiting for its chance to fall on its next victim. By the time Grenouille is fifteen, at the end of Chapter 7, he has lived through a horrible, further dehumanizing childhood of abuse and neglect. He has asked for life but no love, and has managed to get just enough to get him to this point in his life. But his freedom to roam the city and smell new smells, partly a result of proving his skills and competence at work, has

turned him into a hunter, a collector of scents. It is now that Grenouille, the tick, will fall off his tree limb and come to life. Chapters 8-15 Chapter 8 begins on September 1, 1753, the anniversary of King Louis XV's coronation. Grenouille is present for the fireworks on the right bank of the Seine, but he is not interested in watching them. He has come to see if he can find something new to smell. He catches a distant scent "rolling down the rue de Seine like a ribbon, unmistakably clear, and yet as before very delicate and very fine" (39). Grenouille follows the scent, almost entirely by his nose, until he finds its source, a teenage girl of about thirteen who is pitting yellow plums in a shabby lean-to on the rue de Marais. He is convinced that her smell, which has drawn him here as if by its own volition rather than his, is "the higher principle, that pattern by which the others must be ordered. It was pure beauty" (43). He marvels at the scent awhile, watching the girl, getting closer and closer to her in the darkness behind her. When he is almost upon her, drawing in her smell, the girl senses his presence. In a moment Grenouille, it appears almost unconsciously, decides to kill her. He strangles her, then strips her of her clothes and takes in her glorious smell. Once her scent has gone and he has been sated with it, he leaves the body. He goes home and feels that he is now truly happy. This event makes him certain that it is his destiny to become the world's greatest perfumer, because he not only has the most sensitive nose and the most accurate memory for scents, he has now discovered the master scent to which all perfumes would strive to express. Giuseppe Baldini is perhaps the closest person in Paris to the "master perfumer" that Grenouille wants to be. He runs an extremely posh shop on the Pont-au-Change, a bridge that connects the right bank of the Seine to the island in the river called the Ile de la Cit. Baldini is a bit past his glory, however, because an upstart named Plissier has made a perfume called Amor and Psyche which is taking away all of the old man's business. Baldini knows that his time in business is coming to an end, and he is planning his somewhat ignominious retirement. The fashion of perfumes has passed Baldini by, and his oldfashioned master perfumer skills, which Plissier and his fellows lack, are no longer valued by customers. Baldini is also very disturbed by the changes taking place in Paris: "People reading books, even women" (57). The new intellectualism and humanism, not to mention the rise of the bourgeoisie, threaten everything that Baldini values. He has a long-suffering shop apprentice, Chenier, who panders to his boss, but also worries that Baldini will take too long to die for the business to be passed on to Chenier to be worth anything, or that Baldini will sell the business out from under him. Baldini has a commission from a Count Vermont to perfume Spanish leather with a scent like Amor and Psyche. At first he tries to make a scent of his own to match it, but he finds that he has no creative powers left. He sends Chenier to obtain a bottle of Amor and Psyche so that he can copy it--a very ignoble thing for a craftsman and established man of business to do. After getting the rival perfume and testing it with his nose for hours, Baldini cannot discover the components of Amor and Psyche, so he falls into despair. The bell rings, and Grenouille is on Baldini's doorstep with the goatskins for the count's Spanish leather from the tanner Grimal. When Grenouille is invited in, he is determined to show his mettle, and he

offers himself as an apprentice perfumer. He keeps insisting that he can replicate the perfume Amor and Psyche, and he finally persuades Grimal to let him into the workshop to try. Grimal, after some resistance from Baldini, creates an exact replica of the scent. When this is done, he asks the "maitre" if he can improve on the scent, because Baldini and Grenouille both think that the scent is not very good to begin with. Grenouille makes a scent "so heavenly fine that tears well [] in Baldini's eyes" (85). Grenouille begs to work for Baldini, who says that he will think about it. Analysis The scene of Grenouille mixing the scent entirely from the evidence of his fractional smelling shows that he is not only a lover of scents, but actually a genius at identifying and understanding them. The perfume Amor and Psyche, which Grenouille replicates, is the most popular scent in Paris at the moment, and Baldini, who has been making perfumes for a lifetime, cannot replicate it. That Grenouille can perform this impressive feat with no training is extraordinary, but the most incredible thing is that he improves the scent so that Baldini not only scents the Spanish leather for the count with it, but he also bottles it and names it. Baldini, while not yet agreeing to take Grenouille on as an apprentice, is already profiting from Grenouille's gift. While Baldini finds Grenouille loathsome, he cannot deny that the young man has a remarkable talent. It seems a surprise that Grenouille would immediately kill the girl pitting plums and thus destroy the source of the most beautiful scent he has ever smelled. Once she is dead, and Grenouille has drunk in her smell, she no longer produces the scent. While Grenouille experiences a sort of high for a time after killing her (because he has been sated on her smell, not because he enjoyed her death), he has eliminated the source of the scent forever. On some level Grenouille knows this, and it presents a problem to him. The problem is not that he has taken a human life--Grenouille has never been treated as a valuable life or an eternal soul, so he does not think of other people in those terms, either--but that there is no way for him to preserve this scent. He can remember it, with his remarkable olfactory memory, but he cannot revisit the scent as it was, now that the girl is dead. This realization, which at this stage of the book is an unconscious one, will influence Grenouille's future actions. In a slight twist of irony, when we first meet Baldini he is wearing a "blue coat adorned with gold frogs" (45). Of course Baldini doesn't know that, shortly, a "frog" (Grenouilles name in French means "frog") will enter his life and, indeed, bring him much gold. That the fulfillment of all of Baldini's desires, in the appearance of the young apprentice who will be his behind-the-scenes genius of perfume-making, will ultimately end in his demise is another ironic twist along the lines of being careful what one wishes for. Baldini was at the end of his rope when Grenouille cajoles him to show the perfumer his untrained powers. Baldini could have averted the series of events which led to his extraordinary success at the end of his career (and, arguably, those events which caused his spectacular death), but his sense of opportunity--or perhaps his greed--did not allow him to pass by the possibility that Grenouille might just be the genius of scent he said he was. That Grenouille is exactly what he claimed to be is both Baldini's good fortune and his misfortune. Baldini represents a dying tradition of medieval craftsmanship and social outlook. His sensibilities are firmly in the seventeenth century, but the tumultuous and largely prosperous eighteenth century is in its full flower in Paris at this time. In many respects Baldini's ideas are still medieval; he has a fatalist view of God's will, and a willingness to accept a certain amount of suffering because he believes it is ordained by God. His astonishment and revulsion at the spread of humanistic learning is a clue to understanding

his character; for example, he is mortally offended that the vinegar-maker, Plissier, has a created a successful scent just by virtue of his entrepreneurial spirit and popular savvy rather than through years of traditional apprenticeship and belonging to the ancient perfumers' guild. The old social and economic institutions are cracking, and people like Plissier are finally able to break into markets without all the old hidebound rules and oligarchies holding him back. Grenouille takes the traditional route through apprenticeship because it is the only route open to him, yet he also represents the new meritocracy rather than the old traditions of Baldini and the guilds. Grenouille is an upstart bastard (generally, apprentices were required to be of legitimate birth) who came from another trade. The fact that he is able to press himself on Baldini is only because of that man's weakness and greed combined with Grenouilles skills, but Grenouille nevertheless makes a place in his chosen profession. This is an example of how the economic and social institutions were changing in the France of Louis XV, as people were increasingly making their own way in trades rather than following their parents. Chapters 16-22 In Chapter 16, Baldini goes directly to Grimal the tanner and pays for the goat leather without any of his usual haggling. The perfumer then invites Grimal to the tavern the Tour d'Argent to drink a bottle of white wine and to discuss the sale of Grimal's apprentice, Grenouille. Baldini gives Grimal the huge sum of twenty livres for the apprenticeship of Grenouille, and Grimal takes it and is "convinced that he had just made the best deal of his life" (87). The two men go back to the tannery, where Grenouille is waiting and ready to go, and Grenouille goes back to the Pont-au-Change with his new master, Baldini. Grimal meets his end soon after this transaction, taking his windfall to the taverns and getting himself so exceedingly drunk that he mistakes his route and falls into the Seine and drowns. Poetically, he floats under the Pont-au-Change just as Grenouille is settling into his new position as apprentice in the House of Baldini. That House now experiences a meteoric rise because of Grenouille's improvement on Amor and Psyche, a scent Baldini markets under the name Nuit Napolitaine. Immediately upon its release the noble populace of Paris beats a path to Baldini's shop, and eighty flacons of the new scent are sold the next day. Baldini spends all his time in the laboratory with Grenouille, whom he calls his "unskilled helper" (89), and Chenier is obliged to handle the deluge of customers in the shop. Not only does Grenouille produce Nuit Napolitaine, but he also creates more and better, totally new scents. The scents are put into crmes, powders, and other products, and Baldini even introduces scented hair ribbons. All are wildly successful, and no one, not even Chenier, believes that Grenouille, "this cipher of a man might be implicated in the fabulous blossoming of their business" (90). As Grenouille creates new scents, Baldini does not allow him to create them "freehand," that is, without measuring and recording, though Grenouille can get exactly what he wants by simply measuring "by nose." Baldini records everything that Grenouille comes up with, eventually creating a great library of new and wonderful scents that he can make even if Grenouille is not with him. Eventually Grenouille is forced to do his work in the perfumer's traditional way--and even to write out new formulas before mixing them for the first time. This removes much of the fear of Grenouilles gift on Baldinis part.

Baldini then moves on to teaching Grenouille how to create the essences which go into perfumes, for Grenouille has none of this knowledge yet. Grenouille is particularly interested in learning how to make tinctures, extracts, and essences from various plants. This interests Grenouille because it means that he can distill odors into stable essences. During these sessions of distillation, Baldini talks absently to Grenouille about his past. Grenouille doesn't listen to him, because he is completely fascinated with the possibilities that the process of distillation has opened for him. Given leisure at night to do distillation, he tries to distill everything. Certain things, such as glass, brass, porcelain, leather, grain and gravel, do not distill well or at all. Grenouille has not understood that the distillation process is meant only for plants with essential oils to be separated from the rest of the plant; for substances that do not have this oil, distillation is completely useless. This mistake causes him to become extremely ill. Baldini is thrown into a panic, for Grenouille has contracted syphilitic smallpox with festering measles, from which the doctor says that he will surely die. Baldini had had the most grandiose plans for his business, including a small factory, an export business, and personalized scents for royalty and members of the nobility. Baldini tries to extract new formulas for scents from the dying Grenouille, but the sick man says nothing. Finally, on the point of death, Grenouille asks, "Tell me, maitre, are there other ways to extract the scent from things besides pressing and distilling?" (104). the shocked Baldini answers that there are three ways: enfleurage a chaud, enfleurage a froid, and enfleurage an l'huile, which are the most superior methods, and are used for the best of all scents: jasmine, rose, and orange blossom. Grenouille wants to know where this sort of distillation is done, and Baldini tells him that it is notable in the south of France, in the town of Grasse. This heartens and revives Grenouille to such an extent that he revives and, incredibly, recovers. Baldini make Grenouille stay with him a time longer, although the man wants to leave immediately for Grasse. When he does go, he is made to swear that he will never make perfumes in Paris, nor will he live in that city again. Grenouille agrees gladly and, leaving Baldini with a book chock-full of new and wonderful formulas for scents, leaves Paris to make his way to Grasse. He is now a journeyman perfumer, able to work elsewhere. Baldini, who has kindly provisioned him for his journey, is nevertheless profoundly glad that he is gone. That very night, Baldini's house falls into the Seine, killing him and taking everything, including the formulas, into the water, never to be seen again. Analysis That apprentices were still "sold" at this time shows that the old medieval system of virtual slavery of apprentices was not yet gone. The middle Ages were a time of serfdom and various other kinds of forced and confined labor and slavery under many guises. Though the Middle Ages, and even the Renaissance, were long over, certain institutions were still in place which valued human beings only by the amount or kind of labor that they could produce; serfdom had been that sort of institution, and the apprentice system in the eighteenth century was similar, though it was under the guise of a training and employment program for children and young men. While the apprentice system did give people the necessary skills to learn a trade, it also profited the master tradesmen by giving them captive, unpaid labor. It was a system which denied the apprentice any kind of freedom until his master, or the guild, decided he was skilled enough in the trade and had

provided enough unpaid (or very poorly paid) labor to become a journeyman. It was not a system which engendered personal freedom or creativity of any kind, though it did give skills of a complex and marketable nature to people who would otherwise be unable to attain them. In what has become typical Sskindian fashion, the author tells the rather darkly hilarious tale of the demise of Grimal immediately after he sells the rights to Grenouille's apprenticeship to Baldini. The pattern has emerged in the novel that, while Grenouille seems at first to confer good fortune, or at least a lack of bad fortune, on the person who comes in contact with him, in the end the person who knows Grenouille comes to a bad end. The people who have known Grenouille intimately have all had this occur to them: Madame Gaillard had the ignominious death that she most dreaded (although that could be blamed on the changing economy and the French Revolution) even though Grenouille had been an uncomplaining orphan who had lived on the most meager food without complaint; Grimal, who had in Grenouille an uncomplaining and anthrax-immune worker, only outlives the stint Grenouille lived with him by a few hours; and soon enough Baldini and, then, the marquis de la Taillard-Espinasse, come to their similar fates. In this pattern, it could be argued, Grenouille is like pure and unadulterated evil. No matter what shortterm gains appear to result from it, the end is always horrible once evil is brought into a person's life. This reinforces Grenouille's otherness or the sense in which he is a curse. His psychopathic inhumanity makes him abominable. Grenouille is like a toxic or radioactive substance; like a chemical or nuclear weapon, he is an expedient solution to a problem that is likely to bring woe to his handler. Although the sad fate of the others is not always immediate, it is clear that Grenouille leaves a swath of destruction behind him wherever he goes. Grenouille's gift, which is so terrifying and bewildering to Baldini, is the kind of wild talent which seems to cause evil while simultaneously causing good. Grenouille has been abnormal from the beginning-born unwanted, nearly murdered, then neglected and overworked his entire childhoodand now proves his gift, which he has privately honed and refined to such a degree that no "normal" person could have it. Grenouille lives only for scents, and he is not a craftsman or an inventive genius so much as a magical prodigy. This kind of profligacy of talent, unchecked by a wider education and undiluted by personality, it seems, cannot function properly in this world. It perverts its vessel, Grenouille, into such a monstrosity that, while he can make the most beautiful scents on earth, can do no other good but brings only evil. The implication, of course, is that such human beings do not belong to the regular word. Thus, perhaps, we see a vision here of the romantic artist, whose extreme talent seems to be an aberration rather than a cause for celebration of human ability. Chapters 16-22 In Chapter 16, Baldini goes directly to Grimal the tanner and pays for the goat leather without any of his usual haggling. The perfumer then invites Grimal to the tavern the Tour d'Argent to drink a bottle of white wine and to discuss the sale of Grimal's apprentice, Grenouille. Baldini gives Grimal the huge sum of twenty livres for the apprenticeship of Grenouille, and Grimal takes it and is "convinced that he had just made the best deal of his life" (87). The two men go back to the tannery, where Grenouille is waiting and ready to go, and Grenouille goes back to the Pont-au-Change with his new master, Baldini. Grimal meets his end soon after this transaction, taking his windfall to the taverns and getting himself so exceedingly drunk that he mistakes his route and falls into the Seine and drowns. Poetically, he floats

under the Pont-au-Change just as Grenouille is settling into his new position as apprentice in the House of Baldini. That House now experiences a meteoric rise because of Grenouille's improvement on Amor and Psyche, a scent Baldini markets under the name Nuit Napolitaine. Immediately upon its release the noble populace of Paris beats a path to Baldini's shop, and eighty flacons of the new scent are sold the next day. Baldini spends all his time in the laboratory with Grenouille, whom he calls his "unskilled helper" (89), and Chenier is obliged to handle the deluge of customers in the shop. Not only does Grenouille produce Nuit Napolitaine, but he also creates more and better, totally new scents. The scents are put into crmes, powders, and other products, and Baldini even introduces scented hair ribbons. All are wildly successful, and no one, not even Chenier, believes that Grenouille, "this cipher of a man might be implicated in the fabulous blossoming of their business" (90). As Grenouille creates new scents, Baldini does not allow him to create them "freehand," that is, without measuring and recording, though Grenouille can get exactly what he wants by simply measuring "by nose." Baldini records everything that Grenouille comes up with, eventually creating a great library of new and wonderful scents that he can make even if Grenouille is not with him. Eventually Grenouille is forced to do his work in the perfumer's traditional way--and even to write out new formulas before mixing them for the first time. This removes much of the fear of Grenouilles gift on Baldinis part. Baldini then moves on to teaching Grenouille how to create the essences which go into perfumes, for Grenouille has none of this knowledge yet. Grenouille is particularly interested in learning how to make tinctures, extracts, and essences from various plants. This interests Grenouille because it means that he can distill odors into stable essences. During these sessions of distillation, Baldini talks absently to Grenouille about his past. Grenouille doesn't listen to him, because he is completely fascinated with the possibilities that the process of distillation has opened for him. Given leisure at night to do distillation, he tries to distill everything. Certain things, such as glass, brass, porcelain, leather, grain and gravel, do not distill well or at all. Grenouille has not understood that the distillation process is meant only for plants with essential oils to be separated from the rest of the plant; for substances that do not have this oil, distillation is completely useless. This mistake causes him to become extremely ill. Baldini is thrown into a panic, for Grenouille has contracted syphilitic smallpox with festering measles, from which the doctor says that he will surely die. Baldini had had the most grandiose plans for his business, including a small factory, an export business, and personalized scents for royalty and members of the nobility. Baldini tries to extract new formulas for scents from the dying Grenouille, but the sick man says nothing. Finally, on the point of death, Grenouille asks, "Tell me, maitre, are there other ways to extract the scent from things besides pressing and distilling?" (104). the shocked Baldini answers that there are three ways: enfleurage a chaud, enfleurage a froid, and enfleurage an l'huile, which are the most superior methods, and are used for the best of all scents: jasmine, rose, and orange blossom. Grenouille wants to know where this sort of distillation is done, and Baldini tells him that it is notable in the south of France, in the town of Grasse. This heartens and revives Grenouille to such an extent that he revives and, incredibly, recovers. Baldini make Grenouille stay with him a time longer, although the man wants to leave immediately for Grasse. When he does go, he is made to swear that he will never make perfumes in Paris, nor will he live

in that city again. Grenouille agrees gladly and, leaving Baldini with a book chock-full of new and wonderful formulas for scents, leaves Paris to make his way to Grasse. He is now a journeyman perfumer, able to work elsewhere. Baldini, who has kindly provisioned him for his journey, is nevertheless profoundly glad that he is gone. That very night, Baldini's house falls into the Seine, killing him and taking everything, including the formulas, into the water, never to be seen again. Analysis That apprentices were still "sold" at this time shows that the old medieval system of virtual slavery of apprentices was not yet gone. The middle Ages were a time of serfdom and various other kinds of forced and confined labor and slavery under many guises. Though the Middle Ages, and even the Renaissance, were long over, certain institutions were still in place which valued human beings only by the amount or kind of labor that they could produce; serfdom had been that sort of institution, and the apprentice system in the eighteenth century was similar, though it was under the guise of a training and employment program for children and young men. While the apprentice system did give people the necessary skills to learn a trade, it also profited the master tradesmen by giving them captive, unpaid labor. It was a system which denied the apprentice any kind of freedom until his master, or the guild, decided he was skilled enough in the trade and had provided enough unpaid (or very poorly paid) labor to become a journeyman. It was not a system which engendered personal freedom or creativity of any kind, though it did give skills of a complex and marketable nature to people who would otherwise be unable to attain them. In what has become typical Sskindian fashion, the author tells the rather darkly hilarious tale of the demise of Grimal immediately after he sells the rights to Grenouille's apprenticeship to Baldini. The pattern has emerged in the novel that, while Grenouille seems at first to confer good fortune, or at least a lack of bad fortune, on the person who comes in contact with him, in the end the person who knows Grenouille comes to a bad end. The people who have known Grenouille intimately have all had this occur to them: Madame Gaillard had the ignominious death that she most dreaded (although that could be blamed on the changing economy and the French Revolution) even though Grenouille had been an uncomplaining orphan who had lived on the most meager food without complaint; Grimal, who had in Grenouille an uncomplaining and anthrax-immune worker, only outlives the stint Grenouille lived with him by a few hours; and soon enough Baldini and, then, the marquis de la Taillard-Espinasse, come to their similar fates. In this pattern, it could be argued, Grenouille is like pure and unadulterated evil. No matter what shortterm gains appear to result from it, the end is always horrible once evil is brought into a person's life. This reinforces Grenouille's otherness or the sense in which he is a curse. His psychopathic inhumanity makes him abominable. Grenouille is like a toxic or radioactive substance; like a chemical or nuclear weapon, he is an expedient solution to a problem that is likely to bring woe to his handler. Although the sad fate of the others is not always immediate, it is clear that Grenouille leaves a swath of destruction behind him wherever he goes. Grenouille's gift, which is so terrifying and bewildering to Baldini, is the kind of wild talent which seems to cause evil while simultaneously causing good. Grenouille has been abnormal from the beginning-born unwanted, nearly murdered, then neglected and overworked his entire childhoodand now

proves his gift, which he has privately honed and refined to such a degree that no "normal" person could have it. Grenouille lives only for scents, and he is not a craftsman or an inventive genius so much as a magical prodigy. This kind of profligacy of talent, unchecked by a wider education and undiluted by personality, it seems, cannot function properly in this world. It perverts its vessel, Grenouille, into such a monstrosity that, while he can make the most beautiful scents on earth, can do no other good but brings only evil. The implication, of course, is that such human beings do not belong to the regular word. Thus, perhaps, we see a vision here of the romantic artist, whose extreme talent seems to be an aberration rather than a cause for celebration of human ability. Chapters 35-41 Part Three of the novel begins in Chapter 35, with Grenouille arriving in the perfume-making town of Grasse. It took seven years for him to get from Paris to Montpellier; it took less than seven days to get to Grasse. He is hurrying to go to Grasse in order to find somewhere to learn about the other methods of distilling and preserving scent, which Baldini had told him about as he lay on his deathbed. In this town Grenouille finds the scent of another red-headed girl, very like the one he killed in Paris on the rue des Marais. But this girl, he discerns only by smelling her outside her garden wall, is still a child, and already has an extraordinarily beautiful scent, which will mature in one or two short years into something utterly ravishing. Grenouille reflects on how people will think that her charm and fascination is in how she looks; Grenouille knows that the way she entrances everyone has very little to do with her looks and everything to do with her wonderful aroma. Grenouille finds, on the rue de la Louver in Grasse, a small perfumer's workshop. The shop is run by the widow of a matre perfumer, helped only by a journeyman named Druot.Madame Arnulfi engages Grenouille on a very poor salary, but Grenouille is glad to have the work. Druot is Madame Arnulfi's lover, and he is only too happy to have someone do the hard work for him. Grenouille is put immediately to work making a pomade of jonquils with Druot. Grenouille learns not only how to make this, but also the processes of lavage and maceration, and the making of essence absolue--the most concentrated form of scent. Grenouille shows himself to be such a good worker, and so quick to learn the intricacies of perfumemaking, that Druot begins to leave more decisions to him. Grenouille learns the very finest way of collecting the most delicate scents--those of jasmine and tuberosecalled cold enfleurage. Grenouille now knows that this method is best for the finest scents, and he begins to wonder about capturing the scent of the red-haired girl. Grenouille slowly teaches himself to collect scents from objects other than flowers by the method of cold enfleurage. He starts with inanimate objects, such as doorknobs and stones, and then moves onto small animals. But he learns that animals do not give up their scents without a fight, and it is best to kill them first before extracting their odors. He experiments with capturing human odors by hanging oily cloths in a tavern and a church, but he finds that this is ineffectual for collecting pure human odors. Finally, he pays a deaf-mute beggar woman to wear the oily cloths next to her skin, which suggests to him the best method and the correct ratio of fats to collect the scent from a human being. Madame Arnulfi marries Druot, but life at the workshop continues much as before. Grenouille visits the red-haired girl's street again, where he smells her improved scent through the garden wall. While he is

closer to his goal, Grenouille starts to panic about the fact that, after he has killed the girl and collected her smell, the essence of her smell will eventually run out and can never be replaced. He becomes almost suicidal, but then a thought occurs to him. He will have to supplement this girl's scent with the scent of other human beings. Grenouille starts killing girls in their first adolescence. The body of a fifteen-year-old-girl is found, naked and shorn of her hair, in a farmer's field. Grenouille took her clothes and hair in order to engage in cold enfleurage, after he had killed her by a blow to the back of her head. This is followed by two more murders of teenage girls, and the people of the region are thrown into a justifiable panic. As the murders continue, various groups are blamed and the authorities try various methods, including an anathema and excommunication. The murders abruptly stop as the count becomes twenty-four dead young women, and the people are relieved. In Chapter 41, the father of the red-haired girl, Monsieur Richis (Antoine), is attempting to marry his daughter into the nobility. He has dynastic plans and, since he is a widower, he plans to marry again after his daughter's marriage so that he can have at least two sons to carry on his business and enter the law. He is less worried now that the anathema on the murderer seems to have worked, but he still guards his daughter,Laure Richis, carefully. Analysis The reader now learns that Grenouille's goal, the red-haired girl Laure, has survived the murders. Grenouille has been killing other women to supplement the scent of Laure in his ultimate, ghastly human perfume. He is able to creep up on his victims and kill them soundlessly, for he finds and pursues them by scent, and he is not detectable by scent himself. All of Grenouille's preparation has been geared to this homicidal method of odor collection, and Grenouille's final goal becomes clear. He will create the ultimate human perfume from the essence of twenty-five young women's scents--a poetically satisfying round number--something that can only be obtained by means of their deaths. The full brunt of the horror of Grenouille's true purpose is staggering. He is no longer just killing on the spur of the moment, as he had with the red-haired girl in the rue des Marais. Grenouille is stalking his kills, with the desire to collect their scents as his only motive. He has no regard for their humanity, but he harvests them as if they were flowers. The introduction of Antoine Richis as a named character signals to the reader that his hubris, as the hubris of so many other characters in this novel, will bring him down. Richis, who is very rich and refined, is trying to rise above his bourgeois station and get himself and his children into the ranks of the nobility. To this end, he has waited for a nobleman to make an offer for his daughter's hand, even though she is now fully of marriageable age. He has not sent her away, as other families have done during the panic over the murders. Richis adores his daughter so much that he cannot bear to have him away from her. The personalization of this family, who will be Grenouille's final victims, puts Grenouille's crimes in perspective. He is not just harvesting flowers for a scent. The surgical and fastidious murders of the previous twenty-four girls, and the resulting prejudiced hysteria, have made the situation seem darkly comic and have trivialized both the victims and the crimes. The focus has been on Grenouille's ingenious

plans and the attainment of his goals. But the story of the murder of Laure will be more personal, because the readers will know the story of her family and her life. Grenouille is very like the tick that he has been compared to several times in this novel. He waits silently and inconspicuously for the right time to drop on his victim. He learns all the necessary skills of the perfumer's art, so that he can collect the delicate scent of human beings, without Druot or anyone else ever suspecting him. He kills silently, choosing his victim only by scent, taking what he needs. Then he is gone, leaving not a trace of himself. In a sense, Grenouille has been preparing for this reasoned rampage all of his life, and it is the only thing that gives his life meaning, for he averts his desire for suicide only by taking on this new, grisly project to capture and extend Laure Richis' scent. Chapters 42-49 The final chapters of Part Three of the novel concern the pursuit and murder of Laure Richis, the prosecution for the murders, and Grenouille's eventual escape from custody. The fantastic tale is full of suspense and surprises. Chapter 42 finds Antoine Richis in his garden, watching his daughter. She disappears behind a hedge for a second or two too long, and he panics. Richis is under a great deal of stress, still worried for the life of his daughter. The rich farmer muses about why the murderer chose the victims he did, and thinks that possibly it is because the criminal is collecting an image of perfection. If this is the case, then his Laure could not possibly be out of jeopardy, since she is the most beautiful woman in France. So, Richis tries to get inside the mind of the murderer and outsmart him. He does not know that Grenouille has a supernatural sense of smell which makes his movements and his hunting abilities almost magical in their success. Richis attempts a ruse by telling everyone that he is going to Grenoble. Richis, their attendants, and Laure start off on that road, but they turn off the road to Cabris after leaving the region of Grasse. They send most of their train onto Grenoble, but Richis, Laure, and her maid go on a different road. Richis plan is to take Laure to stay one night on the coast, and the next day take her to the island monastery of Sant-Honorat until her marriage to the son of the baron de Bouyon. By this tactic Richis is attempting to protect Laure until her wedding night, after which she will no longer be a virgin and therefore, he thinks, will not be of interest to the maniacal murder (who thus far has only taken virgins). Grenouille knows all of these movements, if not the reasons behind them, by following the scent of Laure. He has in his cabin, in a padded crate, twenty-four flacons filled with the scents of the twentyfour girls he has killed. He is almost ready to create his ultimate scent. He has only to take the top and finest note for his master perfume: the scent of Laure. By chance, Grenouille leaves his work and steps outside, and he senses that he can no longer smell Laure. He thinks she is dead, but he learns from Druot that the Richis family has left Grasse. By his nose, he knows that the party has not gone to Grenoble, as the town thinks. He follows the Richis by scent on the road to Cabris, after having collected his tools for the murder and scent-collection of Laure. Grenouille reaches the inn La Napoule before Laure and her father do. He beds down for the night in a stall, giving a false name and profession. Richis, upon arrival, asks if there are other guests. When he learns that there is a "journeyman tanner" in the stable, he goes to inspect him. Grenouille, scentless, is feigning innocent sleep in a stall when Richis comes upon him: "Richis had the impression that he was

not even there, but was merely a chimera cast by the swaying shadow of the lantern candle" (213). Satisfied that Grenouille is not a threat, he locks his daughter in her bedroom and goes to bed. Grenouille finds the girl's window ajar, and he gets in by means of a ladder from the stable. Quickly he kills her with a blow to the head and then wraps her from head to foot in oiled cloth. Then he sits and waits for six hours while her scent is distilled into the oil. While he waits, he feels profoundly contented. "He had never felt so fine in all his life, so peaceful, so steady, so whole and at one with himself--not even back inside his mountain--as during these hours when a craftsman took his rest sitting in the dark of night beside his victim, waiting and watching. They were the only moments when something like cheerful thoughts formed inside his gloomy brain" (218). Near dawn, Grenouille removes the oiled cloth from his victim, and he takes all traces of remaining oil from her body. He takes this, her clothes, and her shorn hair and leaves without even looking at the body a final time. A few hours later Richis finds, to his horror, that his worst nightmare has come true. Hysteria now reigns in the region, since the murderer previously thought vanquished and banished has obviously struck again. But now there is coordination among law enforcement, and there are clues as to the identity of the murderer, especially the presence of the "journeyman tanner" in La Napoule's stable. Finally a witness remembers Grenouille asking about the road that the Richis party had taken, and Grenouille is arrested. In his cabin, all the evidence of the twenty-five murders is found, and Grenouille is condemned. The mob screams for him to be given to them to tear apart, but the authorities insist that he will be executed lawfully. When Grenouille is brought out to be executed, he is wearing the scent of the twenty-five girls he has murdered. Miraculously, no one now believes that this man could, by any stretch of the imagination, be the murderer. The perfume is of such exquisite loveliness that it inspires love and happiness in everyone who smells it--even those who are too far away to smell it consciously. This leads, incredibly, not only to Grenouille's release but also to a vast and long-lasting public orgy. Richis comes to him and begs him to come with him and become his son. The grieving father asks his daughter's murderer for forgiveness. Grenouille, feeling the hate and revulsion for all mankind rise up in him, blacks out. Analysis Richis, while a more astute opponent than Grenouille has ever faced before, is still no match for the wiliness and supernatural abilities of Grenouille. Richis tries very hard to outwit the murder, and comes close to doing so in his analysis of the murders. "As we can see, Richis was an enlightened thinker who did not shrink from blasphemous conclusions, and though he was not thinking in olfactory categories, but rather than visual ones, he was nevertheless very near the truth" (203)--in other words, he knew that the victims were being killed because the murderer was in some way trying to reproduce his ideal of ultimate desirability, but Richis thinks it has to do with visual instead of olfactory attractiveness. Like the rest of humanity, Richis severely underestimates the importance of scent, while Grenouille understands that scent rules practically everything. Grenouille was not only shunned by all people because of his misfortunes and his lack of scent, but he must feel very alone in a world where no one understands the importance of the sense which he holds

supreme. Because people not only do not understand the importance of smells, but also are unable to smell a great deal of the things Grenouille can, Grenouille feels only contempt for the deluded masses. This realization is particularly sharp when Grenouille finds that he can manipulate these masses completely to his will with the introduction of a scent, as he does at his erstwhile execution. That people are so completely controlled by something that they not do not understand, but would deny even exists as Grenouille understands it, makes Grenouille feel not only separate, but infinitely superior to every other person on earth. During the orgy, Grenouille muses that he is more godlike than God, and understands humanity, perhaps, better than God does. Grenouille, who was born in the worst possible situation, and denied something that every other human being has--a personal scent--was able to create a scent for himself that not only would fool everyone, but also would subject everyone to his will. How was this not Godlike? To know that the people in this world, whom he always wanted to love him, do not have their own wills to love or hate but are simply controlled by various odors makes Grenouille know that having their love would never make them happy. The world is merely a chemical place, with organisms acting and reacting solely on the basis of chemical signals, like ants following their fellows' chemical trails. There is now nothing left in this world for Grenouille to strive for. The final straw, which makes Grenouille lose all respect for humanity, is the abject apology of Richis. Not even the man whom he has so recently wronged is proof against the chemical commands of the master scent that Grenouille has created. Once Grenouille knows that there is practically nothing in this world that he cannot have, because all is obtainable through the right mix of scent, nothing in the world seems valuable to him. Richis is no longer a man with principles or emotions; he, too, is like an animal responding to a stimulus, such that all memory and logic are subverted or perverted to match the commands of the scent. Grenouille, finding there are no more scent worlds to conquer, and nothing in humanity of any value, has lost any purpose for living. His blacking out symbolizes his desire to leave this world. This final perfume is Grenouilles master work. It is truly a masterpiece in the sense of the old guilds, proving (if anyone needed proof) that Grenouille is a professional, master perfumer, no longer needing to be trained by someone else. He has learned more about smells and distilling them, via many methods, than anyone. He is a most grotesque version of the troubled artist, whose greatness cannot be understood by the common people and whose isolation only increases his artistic ability. Like many such artists, he will die early and misunderstood. Chapters 50-51 In Chapter 50, Grenouille awakens in Laure Richis bed. The incredible public orgy is still taking place in Grasse, and Antoine Richis is waiting by the bed for Grenouille to wake up. From Richis, Grenouille learns that the magistrate has overturned the verdict against him, so Grenouille is no longer in any legal jeopardy. Richis continues with a fatuous speech, begging Grenouille to come and live with him as his son, and saying how much Grenouille is like her. Richis is so abject, and so embarrassingly pleading with Grenouille to love him, that Grenouille cannot burst his illusion. He agrees to be adopted as Richis son. Grenouille then feigns sleep, and finally Richis blows out the candle and leaves the room.

Once alone, Grenouille carefully and silently leaves Richis house. He picks his way through the sleeping town, over the bodies of the debauched and drunken orgy-makers, who have finally collapsed from their revels. Grenouille walks straight away from town, directly over the fields. As the sun rises, the people awaken, shocked at the state of themselves and, even if they had not drunk wine, with great headaches and nausea from the excesses of Grenouilles master scent. A sort of collective amnesia settles in, and the event is never spoken of again. Druot is now charged with Grenouilles crimes, for it is was in his cabin that the evidence was found. They torture him until he confesses and begs for execution. Druot, the innocent man, is hung quietly and without any fuss, and the case is soon forgotten. Travelers can no longer get people to answer about what happened to the notorious murderer; only a few of the insane from the Charit babble about any of these events. Part Four of the book consists only of Chapter 51, the final chapter. Once again, Grenouille is traveling by night. As in his first journey to the Plomb du Cantal, Grenouille avoids people and lives off of vegetation and the invertebrates he can catch. He goes near his former mountain home but feels no desire to go back to his solitary cave. He feels that he can no longer live either with human beings or without them. He was suffocated by both worlds (251). He plans to go to Paris to die. Grenouille still has the flacon of the incredible fragrance. One drop only had he used to manipulate the entire population of Grasse. Since the flacon is almost full, he has enough to make everyone in Paris think he is the new Messiah, or the next emperor. There is nothing he cannot do with this powerful fragrance, and he has plenty of it. He possessed the power ... a power stronger than the power of money or the power of terror or the power of death: the invincible power to command the love of mankind (252). But Grenouille perceives that this is not enough because he cannot love himself. He knows that, even though he can appear as the most wonderful of individuals to everyone in the world with this scent, he cannot smell himself and, therefore, he cannot know who he truly is. With this lack of self-knowledge, the world and himself have no meaning. Grenouille also reflects that he is so different from humanity because he understands desires for scents themselves, not just seeing the effects of the scents. Grenouille never desired Laure for herself; he only desired her scent. When Grenouille wore the master scent, people desired him for himself, and they did not know that they were simply being manipulated by the smell. What the people truly wanted was a total mystery to them. Though this seems to be an important truth, Grenouille, who is existentially depressed and suicidal, does not dwell on it. On a hot day in June 1766, Grenouille enters the city of Paris. Grenouille goes to the Cimitire des Innocents and waits for nightfall. A ruffian-looking group assembles around a small campfire; they are murderers and criminals of every kind. Grenouille comes to their campfire and immediately covers himself with the entire contents of the bottle of the exquisite perfume. In short order the mob surrounds Grenouille, tears him to pieces, and eats every part of him. The cannibals feel incredibly happy, if a bit embarrassed, after this act: For the first time they had done something out of love (255). Analysis

The theme that humanity does not know what it truly longs for is brought out pessimistically in these last two chapters. Everything that could possibly be called attractive in this world is boiled down to one thing: personal scent. So, when people love other human beings, it is only because their chemical composition creates that effect in other people. If this is as fully the case as Grenouille discovers, there is no free will in the world, no volition, and, most importantly, no love. That Grenouille discovers this apparent truth through the curious twist of a talent for smelling is a unique method of existential exploration. Are human beings so deluded that they are completely controlled by things about which they understand nothing? Do irrational forces, such as pheromones and personal scents, determine our actions more than free will or logic, or even emotion? Sskinds book invites this kind of internal exploration of motives and reality. Yet, Grenouilles extreme view seems to go too far, calling into question the findings of science that suggest a much wider variety of human motivations and choices. While Grenouilles universe is controlled by scent--to the subjugation of not only every single other sense but also free will, logic, coincidence, or probability--it also is preposterous. Grenouille is obviously a fantastical construction, for no human beings sense of smell was ever so fine. Nor is it possible that anyone could be born giving off no personal scent whatsoever. These are not the only impossible premises on which the book is founded, but they are the most central to the story. The extreme case presented by the author helps us think about what really motivates us, consciously or not. Since a world like Grenouilles does not exist, his premise of the sovereignty of scent is wrong. Another reason the author may have presented Grenouilles case this way is so that readers might examine their own false premises about how the world really works, and, subsequently, guard against the kind of dysfunctional, internal life that Grenouille creates for himself. Grenouille is a monster born with no scent, a preternaturally sharp nose, and the power of will, observation, and cognition. He is an impossible human being who ultimately feels godlike in his delusion--which, strangely, is never challenged because in the world the author has created, smells really do become sovereign. As for us, what kind of impossible human beings do people create in their own minds, such as by prejudice or ignorance, and what kinds of impossible human beings do we think we are, magnifying a single flaw or a single asset into the ruling aspect of our being? The presentation of a fantasy world like this one leads us to wonder what in our own lives, including perhaps nationalism, chauvinism, racism, religion, superstition, environmentalism, or science, is based upon false premises or on ideas stretched beyond the breaking point, so that we too easily believe in impossible, improbable, or wholly evil others. That humanity does not know itself at all, and, especially, has no idea about what it really desires or loves, are two main tenets of this novel. Despite what humans think they know via religion, science, or common sense, humanity, it seems, is uniquely situated to misunderstand itself. When a human being has the genius or the misfortune to understand the deeper truths of the world, such as Grenouille does, he or she is wholly out of place and, in the end, a misunderstood force in the world. Social Change in Pre-Revolutionary France Baldini, the perfumer, greatly laments the changing of the old order to the newer, more modern laws and customs of mid-18th-century France. What is the old man complaining about? This era, called the Bourgeois Liberal Revolution, saw some great social change in France. The most significant change involved the rise of the middle class, a largely un-landed, urban, skilled middle class who created the

majority of the wealth of the country. This group, historically small and undervalued, came to be the most important and powerful group in France. It is important to note that this did not mean that the old classes had changed or fallen away; they endured, but the power of other classes diminished in relation to the power of the rising bourgeoisie. The France that Grenouille was born into in 1738 was still recognizable as the France of the Renaissance. But by the time Grenouille was an adult, the bourgeoisie had grown to essentially control the internal government of the country through a large and very effective bureaucracy. An example of this in the novel is the treatment of Grenouille and his mother immediately after his birth. There were specific, enforceable laws against infanticide (a crime notoriously under-prosecuted throughout human history, and in some societies ignored), and the justice for Grenouille's mother was swift and specific. She intended to take a life via neglect, allowing a life to expire. In retribution, her life was taken from her. The apparatus of the church was there to receive Grenouille, and there was a precedent for what was to be done with him, at least for a time. The social order of the urban middle class was maintained by the legal system and the church. Since the urban middle class, through taxes, was supporting both of these systems, the sensibilities of this class prevailed in their policies. The liberal revolution, which involved "people reading books, even women" (57), as Baldini laments, was also a revolution of education. General education for all but the very poorest classes had been steadily growing, and the popular study of philosophy, science, theology, and politics had come into vogue for the wealthy classes. The Enlightenment, an extraordinary period of scientific and philosophical achievement, had begun, and many of its greatest lights came from or lived in Paris. The city was more intellectual than it ever had been before, and the average middle-class person also had more access to wealth and knowledge than ever before. Why, then, did Grenouille, a loathsome and irredeemable murderer, manage to flourish for so long in this society? The same urban, sophisticated, somewhat jaded society which had protected him from harm in his youth now made no provision for him if he was unable to fit into its economic engine. Like the situation of a Dickens orphan, however, the folk values of village life (which generally provided a sort of safety net for orphans and unwanted children) were not present in Paris, but they had been replaced by a bureaucracy that permitted guild masters to take children in. The Enlightenment had provided enough humanity in political thought to discourage infanticide, but the concept of supporting a caring community life for children was still beyond this society's means or abilities. Fortunately, Paris became able to support Grenouille once his talents were found useful. There was enough demand (and middleclass money) for fashion to support Grenouille's deluge of masterful perfumes. Urban life, meanwhile, provided no reason for society to care much about Grenouille, a mere tanner's apprentice. Though the guild was able to give Grenouille his journeyman's papers (which thus gave him some freedom), he was not able to take the credit for his own creations. This kind of limitation of humanity, within the incomplete development of the periods humanism, is part of the reason Grenouille became as perverse as he did. At no time, no one appreciated Grenouille for himself as a human being. This had in some ways been his lot as an orphan, and it now was partly a function of the huge, revving engine of the Bourgeois Liberal Revolution, which tended to treat human beings with less humanity in general. Much of the old order had been superseded, the consequences of which actually gave Grenouille his life and his start as a perfumer, yet the old social networks which protected people had not been replaced

in urban life. Adults were on their own, enjoying the risks as well as the rewards of relative freedom. Grenouille, it could be argued, would not have been the same person had he been born in a different time; the years before the Revolution in France were just perfume-crazy enough--and just pitiless enough--to let a person like Grenouille slip through the cracks and develop his strange ways on his own. Thus, the author likely chose his setting well.

magical realism, which creates a highly detailed, realistic setting *that+ is invaded by something too strangeto believe

Sskinds Perfume is only constituted by Grenouille, the protagonist of the story, onwhom the magical aspects are concentrated, which makes him God-like he is able to perceive what other humans cannot. He only develops in the reality of odours, the self made empire of his soul 4 , being asociopath in the real world. Everything unexplained or supernatural that happens throughout the story links back to his ominous personality and extraordinary ability to enter the realm of scent. The differences in the authors approach es to magical realism result in differing techniques they employ to preserve the historicalaccuracy of the narrative

Perfume has linear chronology, an easy-to-follow structure and a descriptive style of narrativ

et in the XVIII-century France, the story is separated from the authors lifetime by more than 200 years, sowe immediately expect less precision and accuracy of the text. Contrary to expectations, Sskind is precise asever: Here... on the most putrid spot in the whole kingdom, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was born on July 17,1738.

6 However, the legitimacy of this precision is questionable. How can the date of birth of another bastard, born by a low-life fish-saleswoman, be known? There is neither any documentary evidence nor anywitnesses to testify to the events in Perfume . Besides, Marquez clearly shows that even availability of testimonies does not necessarily shed light upon the situation and may even perplex the reader yet further.

S skind s story mysteriously disappears: for instance, the collapse of Baldinis house, after which nothingwas found: not the bodies, not the safe, not the little books with their six hundred formulas. 13 In the veryintroduction , Sskind gives readers an excuse for the lack of evidence of Grenouilles existence: "His gifts were restricted to a domain that leaves no traces in history 14

and at the end informs the readers that Grenouille had disappeared utterly from Earth . 15 With all characters who knew Grenouille dead, hisdocuments non-existent and finally himself having been cannibalised, there is no plausible evidence of Grenouilles deeds and therefore they are fictional. The protagonist of the story, the only source of magicrealism, is unreal and serves as the personification of the corrupt French society of the XVIII century, whilstthe extended metaphor of the omnipresent Paris stench surrounding him symbolises the foul decadence of thecontemporary bourgeoisie. Indeed, the very end of Grenouille resembles the historical fate of the Frenchmonarchy, when the Great Revolution of 1783 shook the foundations of feudalism and erased the long-standing hierarchy and inequality of the social classes. Ironically, through the journey of an apparentlyfictitious and unbelievable character, we take a history lesson about the XVIII-century France and, as S skindis a qualified historian , we may trust the realism and accuracy of its depiction in Perfume