Perfume

Perfume

Perfume Part 3, Chapter 49 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The execution is scheduled for five in the afternoon, but spectators begin arriving in the morning. Not long after noon, more than ten thousand spectators fill the surrounding meadows and fields. After three, Monsieur Papon appears to applause, and he and his henchmen set up the cross. The grandstands begin to fill at four, and Richis and the bishop appear last.
This sequence is absurd, but we're reminded of the power that Grenouille holds as all these people have come to see him die, and justice served. Notice too that Richis isn't participating in the crowd's frenzy, again holding himself above the common populace.
Themes
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Upward Mobility and Social Movement Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
Ten minutes later, the crowd breaks into a frenzy when they hear and see the police lieutenant's carriage coming down the road. The carriage is the only way to guarantee Grenouille's safety from the bloodthirsty crowd. It stops halfway between the cross and the grandstand, and Grenouille appears from it, well dressed and unbound.
The crowd's bloodthirstiness necessitates Grenouille's arrival in a carriage, which continues to provide concrete symbols of Grenouille's importance. He's also unbound, alluding again to his power.
Themes
Power and Control Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
A miracle happens then, as the ten thousand people suddenly find that they truly believe Grenouille did not commit the murders. Monsieur Papon feels the same way, and doesn't think he can take his rod to this innocent man. The crowd grows weak and feels love for Grenouille.
The reader knows that the crowd's sudden and fantastical reaction is due entirely to Grenouille's perfume made from Laure and the 24 other girls. It's becoming obvious that Grenouille certainly isn't going to die today.
Themes
Power and Control Theme Icon
Creative Genius vs. Convention and Assimilation Theme Icon
Upward Mobility and Social Movement Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
The footman next to Grenouille sinks until he's lying on his belly on the ground. The lieutenant and officer of the guard weep and wring their hands, and the noble ladies sigh and clasp their hands, while the gentlemen jump up and sit down again. The Bishop looks ill, but he's actually basking in religious rapture. The common folk, on the other hand, are filled with sexual desire for Grenouille. This turns Grenouille's execution into the largest orgy since before Christ. People engage with each other with no regard to who their partner is, but just as the opportunity presents itself.
The perfume is powerful enough to make grown men cry, and inspire the bishop to religious rapture for the first time. The author here equates sex and passion with love, as Grenouille's perfume inspires love in all who smell it, and this then leads to a literal orgy. By not speaking, Grenouille allows the individuals to experience the perfume individually, rather than as he might instruct them to.
Themes
Growing Up and Becoming Human Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
Creative Genius vs. Convention and Assimilation Theme Icon
Upward Mobility and Social Movement Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
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Grenouille stands and appears to smile, but he's actually smirking and considering his triumph and complete contempt for the people around him. He made the people love and idolize him, and he feels greater than a god. He knows that if he asked them to, the people would renounce God and worship Grenouille the Great instead, who is now manifest in the real world.
Grenouille is tapping into the power of religion and passion with his perfume, and notably, his inner fortress has now come to life in the real world. He's been dreaming about this orgy for years at this point, but notice that he still experiences contempt for these people and how easily they are manipulated.
Themes
Growing Up and Becoming Human Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
Creative Genius vs. Convention and Assimilation Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Grenouille feels terror as well as he sees the effect of his perfume, and he experiences fully his contempt for humankind, which sours his triumph. He realizes that he never wanted love and only ever found gratification in hatred, and he wishes to exterminate these people. The fog from his dream begins to rise again, more terrifying than the dream, though, as this is real life. Grenouille sees Richis running towards him and thinks that Richis will kill him, but Richis embraces him and asks for forgiveness. Grenouille faints.
Grenouille finally realizes that he hates people without exception, even though he now has the power to control them entirely. Grenouille's dream returning again mirrors the return of Richis's dream of Laure dying, as the dreams are many times more terrifying in real life. In this case, Grenouille faints to escape both his terror and his hatred, even at his moment of greatest triumph.
Themes
Growing Up and Becoming Human Theme Icon
Power and Control Theme Icon
Creative Genius vs. Convention and Assimilation Theme Icon
Scent, Sight, and the Grotesque Theme Icon