Grenouille Character Analysis

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The eccentric personality behind Grenouille’s character leads him to observe humanity as an outsider, which helped him build his arrogance and feelings of superiority towards God. What he truly loathes, though, is society’s construct of religion, as he enters a church for the very first time and derides God: “How miserable this God smelled!” (pg. 161). This resistance to religion manages to spread amongst other characters as well, such as Baldini, who “forgot, for the first time ever, to say his evening prayer” (pg. 90). Grenouille’s unpleasant unusualness is something the narrator makes very clear from the beginning of the book: “Jean-Baptiste Grenouille […] has been forgotten today, […] certainly not because [he] fell short of […] arrogance, …show more content…
He would’ve sworn to anything” (pg. 111), throwing around biblical terminology without the mere belief. He is often, however, compared to Jesus, as the narrator describes “Grenouille’s resurrection” (pg. 110) after he “fell mortally ill […] like a martyr” (pg. 104), much like an artist dying for his art. He is also described as “Him, Grenouille the Great, the Incomparable, the Magnificent, who, enthroned upon his gold-scented cloud, sniffed his breath back in again, and the sweet savour of his sacrifice was pleasing unto him” (pg. 131). Grenouille’s ambition, therefore, comes not from a love for humanity – for which Christ allows himself to be sacrificed – instead, he is motivated by hatred.
At the end of the book, Grenouille is, once again, compared to Christ, as he is consumed by the public (pg. 263) – much like the Eucharist, a ceremony in which Christians mimic the Last Supper by eating bread, symbolising the body of Christ. A difference, once again, isn’t only his hatred, but his giving up on humanity, as he realises they are so easily manipulated that they will never truly grasp the grandiosity of his creation. He has reached his goal: he manages to create the most beautiful scent in the world. Having done that, he sees no further
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Mme. Gaillard, for example, raised him until the age of eight, has one dream only: to afford a private death, as “she dreaded a communal, public death among hundreds of strangers” (pg. 21). After he left, however, she experiences an “economic downfall”; “by 1797 […] she had lost her entire fortune”, dying of a cancer that “[robbed her] of her voice, so that she could raise not one word of protest as they carted her off to the Hôtel-Dieu. […] There they […] laid her in a bed shared with total strangers, pressing body upon body with five other women, and for three long weeks let her die in public view” (pg. 31-32). Baldini, too, suffered after having met and used Grenouille. “with no apparent reason, the west side of the Pont au Change […] collapsed. […] At one blow, the entire inheritance was gone” (pg. 116) ruining even Chénier’s future, as he could no longer be named heir in Baldini’s will, dooming his chances of ever becoming the owner of the perfume factory. Lastly, the girls; the beautiful, red-haired girls, not yet tainted by the corrupt nature of humanity, whom Grenouille murders. In his twisted mind, he believes that by extracting their scent he could preserve them for eternity, but what the reader sees is the destruction of innocence and

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