Perfume takes the form of a bildungsroman, or a coming of age novel. The reader follows Grenouille from birth to death through the four parts of the novel, and experiences with him how he learns about the world, begins to conceptualize his place in it, and struggles with his identity.
Children are described throughout the book as sub-human for a variety of reasons. Religious teachings, according to the novel, state that infants are completely worthless…(read full theme analysis)
Perfume is, at its heart, a novel about power. It explores how people obtain power, and then how they keep it or fail at doing so. A combination of religion and bureaucracy is introduced as the first avenue through which an individual can enjoy power. It's this combination that made sure that the infant Grenouille stayed alive in the first place. Later in Grasse, this same combination attempts to exert its power and do away…(read full theme analysis)
While the novel's focus is on scent more than anything else, it relies heavily on descriptions of scent that are highly visual in nature. This combination works to create a grotesque landscape, simultaneously repulsive and beautiful, that draws the reader in and pushes them away in turn.
The entire premise of the novel is based on the idea that scent is more powerful than anything else, and most importantly, that this power isn't known or…(read full theme analysis)