Jillian SeemanMs. FleetIB EnglishApril 26, 2017Word count: What it means to be human “That cry, emitted upon careful consideration, one might almost say upon mature consideration, was the newborn’s decision against love and nevertheless for life.”(Suskind 21) In Perfume by Patrick Süskind the idea of love, normality, and what it means to be human is presented through a motif of domestic animals, smell, and religious allusions. Jean Baptiste Grenouille had a very harsh childhood, he was given to a women called Madame Gaillard who suffered brain damage as a result of being abused by her father. This incident left Gaillard unable to smell and completely incapable of feeling any emotion. She was able to raise Grenouille who until now was seen as the devil because he lacked a natural scent because she wasn’t able to smell at all. This had a major impact on Grenouille because she raised him throughout his childhood and with her as the only mother figure to look up to he was greatly distorted. Grenouille grew up not knowing love and compassion because Madame never displayed it to him in fact we are told her was never taught things such as justice, God, joy, responsibility, and humility, which are all seen as important to teach children. This impacted Grenouilles idea on what it means to be human or to even be normal because he doesn’t care about others emotions or feelings because he was never taught compassion. Throughout Perfume we see Grenouille being taken advantage of by all his elders starting with Madame Gaillard because she only used him for the money she was provided. She gave him basic needs such as food and water and nothing more. This notion planted the idea in Grenouilles mind that humans aren’t important and can be treated like animals because he was never shown his importance. His childhood ultimately turned him into the murderer he became because he doesn’t respect others and know the importance of a human life, because he was always treated like an animal. It was early on in his life that he established that being human was not important and lives were not important, humans are something that you can manipulate for your own benefit when you see fit. Whereas others raised in “normal” ways would know each life is a free spirit and very vulnerable, and rather than trying to bestow these ideas Madame sold him to a tanner for more money because that’s all she saw Grenouille was good for. In the next chapters of his life Grenouille was raised by Grimal, a tanner. Here Grenouille is again treated in an animal like way being used only as free labor, who at night is locked in a closet to prevent his escape. These actions take away all ethics and boundaries that “normal” humans are entitled to such as freedom. Grimal just like Madame took away Grenouilles humanity and used him only to his benefit by using him for free labor. He would give him better treatment only when he served Grimal well, but he is still seen as inhuman and less superior to his elder, we this when he states that “He was no longer locked in at bed time. His food was more adequate. Grimal no longer kept him as just any animal, but as a useful house pet,” (Suskind 32).Grimal didn’t bestow love upon Grenouille and this affected his idea of what it means to be a human by making him believe that he was only good for working and doing jobs no one else would dare to do, and this only feeds into the idea planted by Madame that humans can be manipulated whenever one person sees fit. His perception or human nature continued to be distorted only feeding into his psychotic ways of life that later came to him through a man named Baldini whom Grenouille was given to for a fair price offered to Grimal. Baldini recruited Grenouille to work for him only because of his amazing sense of smell, and the talent it created for imitating famous and eloquent perfumes. He again proves to Grenouille that humans are only good for what you need from them, by manipulating him into plagiarizing his enemies perfume to save Baldini’s business. When he is able to create scents Baldini quickly realizes his potential and allows his to use his supplies to create new scents only for the benefit of Baldini. The feeling of praise he receives for his scents is the closest he has come to feeling love from an individual even though it is still far from the actual concept of love humans believe in. This feeling however showed him his potential in life and how he could reach that potential and become “the creator of scent”( Suskind 49). Overall, the three main characters responsible for raising his bestowed a twisted version of what it means to be human in his mind, and when sent off into the world to treat people as he was treated, like animals who can be manipulated and mistreated. Grenouille moves on in life feeling detached from society because he doesn’t have a scent of his own, which he discovers when he goes into isolation because of his pure hatred for humanity due to the way he was treated in adolescents. This establishes the connections between scent and power in the novel Perfume because it shows that people only see him as animalistic and not human because he lacks a scent. Whereas, everyone else has a humanly smell making them normal. The moment he realizes he has no scent is the climax of the story and the start of Grenouilles downfall because he only wants to be seen as human and craves the power over humanity and he thinks he can do this by creating the world’s most beautiful scent and believes he can manipulate them into getting what he wants. As a result of this detachment he begins killings sprees to collect the scents of young girls. For these actions he feels no remorse because he doesn’t know the value of human life as a result of his childhood. This relates to the question what it means to be human because without Grenouilles twisted idea of human value he would not be killing young girls or trying to manipulate people. Grenouille who despite this view on human nature still craves being seen as human and not just an animal, he wanted to be taken seriously and seen as a god like person. This is significant because it changes his mind set and makes him into Grenouille the monster. Patrick Suskind shows his success in manipulating the human mind in the end of the story when he states “He possessed the power…. the invincible power to command the love of mankind. There was only one thing that power could not do: it could not make him able to smell himself.”(Suskins 252) This is significant because even though people loved him he knew that he would never be more than an animal because even though he’s fooled everyone he still doesn’t have a scent, and through Suskind’s comparison to scent and power we can see no matter how far he goes he can never truly possess power. This confession of Grenouilles ties into the religious allusions in the end of the novel. In these allusions Grenouille plays the part of Jesus where he is seen as an outcast from everyone from everyone else and for these actions he was to be crucified.