At the end of the novel there can be seen to be a change of attitude of society towards Grenouille. Due to his amazing gift, Grenouille is able to create a scent that powerfully manipulates human emotion through preserving the aroma of the 25 virgin girls. At Grenouille’s execution he reveals this scent and the whole town is overwhelmed by emotion. It is at this point in time that the townsfolk admire Grenouille’s gift and because of their state of delirium, disregard Grenouille’s crimes.
It is here when Grenouille can be seen to be accepted into society.
However, regardless of this Grenouille still perceives himself as an outsider. Grenouille believes that he is not loved for himself but for the perfume he created, he states; “I have always found gratification in hatred, in hating and being hated, not love. ” He then decides to return to Paris upon finding that the satisfaction that he initially felt has transformed itself into self-hatred and disgust.
In comparison to Othello the novel Perfume can be seen to be both similar and different in their representations of the Outsider.
Like Grenouille, Othello is seen as an outsider because of his background. He is outcaste because of his race and his differing values due to past experiences. Grenouille can be seen to reflect this idea, as he is an outsider initially because of his background that challenges the norm of society at the time the novel was set. Another similarity that can be made between these two texts is that the perception of the outsider is perceived from society and also from within the outsider itself.
Othello, even though quite underestimating at times, believes that he is inferior to the Venetians, he states; “Happily for I am black and do not possess the soft parts of conversation chamberers have”. Grenouille also perceives himself as an outsider and is aware of the unwelcoming presence he bestows upon others. The fact that Grenouille devotes his life to creating a scent that will make him accepted and valued in society shows how he is aware if this. Another likeness between Othello and Grenouille is that both characters share a differing attitude to women that makes them outsiders in society.
They are both somewhat oblivious to women as a sexual commodity, or do not show the affiliation to what would be expected of them. Othello shows an unusually lack of affection or infatuation towards his wife Desdemona. Othello has just been married to a young, and beautiful woman but does not seem to be besotted with her at all. This can be compared to Grenouille’s differing attitude to women. Although Grenouille does not have a rightful relationship towards the women he comes across, he is still obsessed with them, unlike Othello.
The way Grenouille expresses this obsession or feeling, however, is still different to what would be expected of most adolescent men. Grenouille is not attracted physically to the women but is enthralled by them because of their scent. Grenouille can also be compared to Iago in the play Othello, as both are dismissive towards the values and ideologies of their context. Loyalty, love, reputation and honesty were all values of great importance in Elizabethan society. Iago’s actions, however, derive from hate, vengeance and deceit.
Yet Iago is still considered an insider in Venice and only chooses to disregard the values of society. Grenouille on the other hand is completely isolated from society and struggles for any kind of acceptance. His brutal actions that go against the values of 18th century France may be partially influenced by the fact that he was not introduced to the morals of society in the first place, due to this isolation. Grenouille, having seen no human affection or experienced any of the values we inherit from human interaction such as love and compassion, find it difficult to distinguish right from wrong in his actions.
Another text that has enhanced my understanding of how the concept of the outsider can be portrayed is the short film “The Story of Bubbleboy”. The film was produced in 2006 for the annual Australian tropfest short film festival. It was directed by Sean Ashcroft, produced by Kristy Fransen and stars Andrew Supanz. “The Story of Bubbleboy” is a film about a man named “Bubbleboy” who is trapped in the past and redeemed by the future. Bubbleboy is a sad outsider who lives alone due to a fanatic phobia of pointed and sharp objects.
He is so afraid that he results to wrapping everything, including himself, in bubble-wrap. He never ventures from his house because the outside world is too terrifying and he cannot comprehend his fears. The film tells the story of his self-imposed exile from the world and how one day, driven by dwindling supplies he ventures out. Bubbleboy, while growing more confident as his adventure draws to an end, is ironically stabbed in an ally way. However, having been stripped from his protective bubbles in his last moments, Bubbleboy finds salvation and feels connected with the world.
Because of Bubbleboy’s fear and self imposed isolation, he is regarded as an outsider by society. He completely avoids human contact and is scorned by the community. Bubbleboy longs for belonging but cannot comprehend his fears. A particular scene in the novel that conveys this idea is the beginning segment where we are introduced to Bubbleboy’s way of life and how it differs greatly from that of society. Here, filming techniques are used to show that Bubbleboy is an outsider. A flashing mirage of everyday “pointy” items is shown while a narrator explains Bubbleboy’s situation.
There is then a long shot of Bubbleboy wrapped from head to toe in bubble-wrap huddling in a corner of his home. This initiates the idea that he is definitely an outsider and is uncomfortable with his surroundings. Close-ups are used to show the trepidation on Bubbleboy’s face to emphasize this point. A panning shot is then used to show how every household item has been covered in bubble-wrap, emphasizing the intensity of the problem. A birds eye view is also used here of Bubbleboy moving uncomfortably through his home; this suggests that he is a victim and is clearly suffering from his phobia.
To show how Bubbleboy’s fears cause him to be perceived as an outsider by the community is the use of dramatic contrast between the outside world and his own. A view from the inside of the house looking out into the street brings a striking contrast of lively colors. When this is compared to the insides of Bubbleboy’s house, which is mostly colored in grays, the fact that he is an outsider is emphasized. Two young girls ride past the house and stop mocking Bubbleboy’s strange appearance from the window.
Bubble boy then shuts his curtain and disappears. The use of the window here also symbolizes the physical barrier between himself and society. Contrast is used in a further scene in the film when illustrating the differences of Bubbleboy’s lifestyle to that of people his own age. Here, Bubbleboy is seen looking longingly into the window of a house where a lively and entertaining dinner party is taking place. A camera angle is used to show how Bubbleboy is looking up into the scene creating a sense of his inferiority and isolation.
There are then a series of flashing images back and forth between the vibrant and colorful party life, with Bubbleboy’s lonesome isolation, again reinforcing this idea. When Bubbleboy finally faces his fears and leaves the house, more techniques are used to show how new and trepidating this is for him due to his experience as an outsider. For example when he opens the door into the outside world, a blinding and foggy light is emitted suggesting the unknown. Once outside the house, Bubbleboy again contrasts greatly with his surroundings as his general appearance is confronting and obviously very odd.
Close-ups are used to show the looks of mockery and confusion on the towns people’s faces to convey this idea. The attitudes’ towards Bubbleboy as an outsider may be seen to change towards the end of the film. When he is ironically stabbed on his way home from his healing journey his is stripped of his bubble-wrap protection. It is here when society can accept him as his true self is revealed. This is shown by a woman rushing to the aid of injured Bubbleboy, truly concerned for his wellbeing.
Bubbleboy’s perceptions of himself as an outsider can also be seen to change. A narrator’s voice is used to explain that at that point, Bubbleboy finds salvation, and for the first time feels connected to the world once outside his shell. There are not many similarities to the play Othello as the short film is such a vastly different text. Though it is clear that both characters; Bubbleboy and Othello are perceived as outsiders by society. However, it is Othello’s unforeseen and irrational actions that confirm his status as an outsider.
While it is Bubbleboy’s out of the ordinary actions that enable him to be accepted into society. Also, Bubbleboy is portrayed to be a victim of the imposing views of society, as he is a lonely and lost character, but on the other hand Othello victimizes society itself when he undergoes the actions that make him an outsider. Evidently, the three texts; “Othello”, “Perfume” and “The Story of Bubbleboy” have all increased my understanding of the outsider as they illustrate a vast use of techniques and concepts that make a person an outsider in society.
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