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Christ Figures in Patrick Suskind's Perfume
Transcript of Christ Figures in Patrick Suskind's Perfume
SAINT-MERRI MADAME GAILLARD'S
ORPHANAGE PLOMB DU
CANTAL Suicide in Paris LA NAPOULE EXCECUTION THE DYSFUNCTIONAL HOLY FAMILY "I, Jeanne Bussie, will not take that thing back!" The Unwilling Mary The Fantasy The Fickle Joseph "[He] had taken a wife, a warm wife fragrant with milk and wool, and had produced a son with her and he was rocking him here now on his own knees, his own child..." "He wanted to get rid of the thing, as quickly as possible, right away if possible, immediately if possible." • the child is clearly not ordinary, for better or worse
• his abnormality causes her discomfort
• although Father Terrier attempts to assure her that nothing is wrong with the child ... ... as the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:30-31 says, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son." • Jeanne Bussie is not comforted and refuses to keep the child under any circumstance
• "virginal" because the baby is not technically hers Mary responds (Luke 1:38), "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." • unsettling because of Father Terrier's acute awareness of Jeanne Bussie's scent throughout their exchange • scent is closely linked to primitive humanity/sexuality in the novel
• seems as if this wish is rooted in his sexual dissatisfaction as a monk, quite unholy -- especially given his incredible discomfort at being observed
by Grenouille at that specific time "Slowly he straightened up, and as he did he breathed the scent of milk and cheesy wool exuded by the wet nurse. It was a pleasant aroma. "A SINFUL ODOR" "His name was Jean-Baptiste Grenouille."
Graveyard underneath compared with Grenouille's birth creates ideas of rebirth and resurrection.
Description of setting itself resembles the stable in which Jesus was born
"Rue de aux fers" and "Rue de la ferronnerie"
Significance of fish
no information about father Irony: Overall insignificance of his birth
contribute to the idea of an "anti-christ" figure. Grenouille's incredible ability to survive here: "They probably realized he couldn't be destroyed."
Reactions of other children
Significance of first words
"Notre Dame Bon Secours" = Our Lady of Good Relief
Madame Gaillard notices certain "supernatural" abilities.
Dies after he leaves- starting this trend Irony: " 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, was the newborn's decision against love and nevertheless for life." Jesus dies for love, while Grenouille lives without it.
anti-Christ figure "The rest of the crowd, partly because they were sensation seekers, partly because they wanted to be totally convinced, demanded to see the murderer." Crucifixion "We want him!" Bible story of Barabbas Cross "A journeyman carpenter nailed it down" "The journeyman perfumer, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille shall within the next forty-eight hours be led out to the parade ground before the city gates and there be bound to a wooden cross, his face towards heaven, and while still alive dealt twelve blows with an iron rod." "The disciples of Satan planned a hearty Luciferian mass of thanksgiving." "The last two days however, he ate nothing at all." Fasting: Devil: "He would have traveled it in an open donkey cart." Mary and Joseph's Journey: The overall effect Grenouille had on the people at his execution: "The footman next to him had sunk to his knees, and sank further still until achieving the fully prostrate position customary in the orient before a Sultan or Allah." Prometheus: "He had performed a Promethean feat." Ironic Conclusion While Jesus died for deeds that weren't truly wrong, Grenouille escaped death for his truly wrong deeds. Crucified Wounds in hands, feet, sides, and head Biblical:
-water and wine Last seen as a young man humble modes of transportation: on foot often portrayed with arms outstretched known to have spent time alone in the wilderness last seen in a company of thieves Forgiving Was denied a room, but given a stall "He could smell the three riders approaching." The three wise men "To preserve their disguise... The two women now wore dark cloaks and veils." fake harmlessness The preparation to kill Laure was done in the dark Happiness for Grenouille [John 12:46], "I [Jesus] have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." "A light fishy wind was blowing from the bay." Grenouille carried latter to the window of his next murder Jesus carried cross to his crucifixion Both a life in his cave and among humans proved wrong for Grenouille "He was suffocated by both worlds." He could fool everyone into being God "...he had sprinkled himself all over with the contents of the bottle and all at once he had been bathed in beauty..." "They felt themselves drawn to this angel of a man" Last seen with thieves and murder • Biblically, "knowledge" represents sin (Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) thus, an imperfect Joseph hypocritically rejects an imperfect Jesus • rejects Grenouille immediately at the threat of knowledge of his character "Gone was the homey thought that this might be his own flesh and blood. Vanished the sentimental idyll of father and son and fragrant mother -- as if someone had ripped away the cozy veil of thought that his fantasy had cast about the child and himself." "...it [was] staring intently at him, scrutinizing him, more piercingly than eyes could ever do." • suggestion of omnipotence, a key feature of the Christian God “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3) "Then the eyes of both [Adam and Eve] were opened and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves." (Genesis 3:7) "He felt naked and ugly, as if someone were gaping at him while revealing nothing of himself." eromim arumim the uncovering of deceptions lacking clothing • sins are exposed -- Terrier rejects Grenouille as Adam and Eve reject (hide from) God at their exposure "The tiny wings of flesh around the two tiny holes in the child's face swelled like a bud opening to bloom. Or rather, like the cups of that small meat-eating plant that was kept in the royal botanical gardens." "'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." • "God-given reason" • implied that this reason is above the knowledge perceived through the senses (irony) • could indicate that "reason" is selectively given by godlike characters in order to maintain humans' inferiority Luke: 4:1-13 • Jesus faces three temptations from Satan "But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” • the temptation to eat • the temptation to rule And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” • the temptation to prove the sovereignty of God KEY FEATURES OF THIS PASSAGE • time spent in solitude/the wilderness • time spent fasting IRONIES • In his fast, Grenouille feasts and drinks himself sick with pleasure with his library of scents.
• Whereas Jesus denies the temptation of power, Grenouille creates and rules his own empire.
• Satan takes Jesus to the top of a mountain where he can see all of mankind -- Grenouille's mountain affords him the greatest possible solitude which, to him, is as tempting/valuable. Other Christ References on Plomb du Cantal "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) • crucifixion = "...totally ridiculous pose for several hours..."
• God = sense of smell "And as he sat there shivering and trying to gather his confused, terrified thoughts, he knew one thing for sure: he would change his life, if only because he did not want to dream such a frightening dream a second time." "He drank it reverently and he sat upright on the sofa to do so." • the smoke is baptismal because his life is changed (he awakens)
• "If He Comes Up, It's Baptism" • the wine symbolizes the Eucharist
• Communion Biblical Language "And... he saw that it was good." "Then Grenouille the Great commanded the rain to stop. And it was so." "... divine creator..." "And Grenouille the Great saw that it was good, very, very good." "...Grenouille the Great..." "...divine Grenouille seeds..." "... seed of fragrance..." "...seed of humanity..." Why does Suskind draw so much from Jesus Christ in creating Grenouille? • to create familiar parallels for a society in which readers most likely have a rudimentary understanding of the life of Jesus Christ
• to make readers question the idea of circumstance both for Jesus and Grenouille
• to add some of the reader's own understanding of a Christ figure to Grenouille's characterization (THESIS)