Jean-Baptiste Grenouille

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille

    Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew Up… with a phenomenal sense of smell and no scent of his own. Left to die by his mother, young Grenouille scrabbles his way his way into life, fighting anthrax, cruel peers, and nurses unnerved by his lack of odor to survive.

Living… in eighteenth-century Paris. The city does not always have a pleasant odor, but Grenouille drinks them all in with equal pleasure, intent on "possess[ing] everything the world could offer in the way of odors."

Profession… perfumer-in-training, though he's already far beyond his masters. Although young Grenouille might not know the names of ingredients or the formulas used for perfumes, he doesn't need them: “I don’t need a formula. I have the recipe in my nose."

Interests… scents, from rose water to horse manure. Grenouille is a perfumer by trade, but he's an omnivore at heart, rarely viewing any scent as inherently "better" than another. Still, Grenouille knows what a well-composed perfume smells like, and he's intent on bringing better colognes to the French elite.

Relationship Status… single. The first time Grenouille shows interest in a girl, it's because of her scent, and their first meeting consists of Grenouille strangling her in order to preserve her scent.

Challenge… creating the ultimate scent. Fame, wealth, status – Grenouille cares little for the tokens of the world, but he's obsessed with recreating the scent of the beautiful young virgin he murdered so long ago. With such a perfume, Grenouille believes, he'd be able to win the admiration and love of everyone. And to create it, Grenouille is willing to kill again...

Personality… as uncanny as his odorless body. An outcast since birth, Grenouille might have a supernatural sense of smell, but it seems to have come at the cost of his moral compass. Obsessive, keenly perceptive, and amoral, Grenouille might look like a small, unassuming man, but his intelligence and mastery over the power of scent make him a decidedly dangerous murderer.


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