The Relationship Between The Corporeal Body And The Spirit In The Context Of The Novels “Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer” And “Hunger”

1617 words - 7 pages

World Literature Assignment 1 |
The Relationship Between the Corporeal Body and the Spirit In the Context of the Novels “Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer” and “Hunger” |


Subject: English A1 Higher Level
Session: May 2010
Word Count: 1500
The constitution of the human being is often classified into two parts: the body and the mind or soul. Whereas these two aspects of the being, supernatural and physical, are often considered two inseparable parts of a whole, they are regarded, rather, as distinct features in both the novels, Perfume and Hunger, that work together in order to ...view middle of the document...

Also, the fact that the victims that Grenouille are attracted to, are “…always girls just approaching womanhood, and always very beautiful…” (Suskind 196), serves to reinforce the previous claim as well. The girls’ scents are in contrast to the “stench barely conceivable to us modern men and women,” (Suskind 3) or corruption of eighteenth century-France, which therefore implies that their purity is one of the reasons as to Grenouille attraction to them. Because his victims are ones on brink of entry into adulthood, they have yet to be corrupted though they have gained the beauty of maturity. The fact that both their physical beauty and purity can be reflected in the girls’ scents, which is representative of one’s soul, indicates that there is indeed relationship between the body and spirit.
This positive correlation can also be observed in the context of Hunger, as well. Physical hunger is seen to have a direct impact on the mental stability of the protagonist as is indicated by the flow of his narration. As his hunger increases, the narrator’s thought pattern grows more and more nonsensical, describing them himself as being “…like a madman.” (Hamsun 68) Moreover, this phenomenon can also be further justified as Hunger can be regarded as a semi-autobiographical piece, mirroring the period of desperation with his writing during the author’s time in Christiania. Physical hunger in the novel therefore also symbolizes the hunger of the soul that Hamsun experienced during this time- the desire to succeed in his writing career. This claim can be supported by the protagonist’s physical reaction to food. One instance describes the narrator as he attempts to eat the bone that had been attained from the butcher shop with the excuse that it was for his dog. He describes it as having “no taste at all; a nauseating odor of dried blood [rising] from the bone.” (Hamsun 161) He then proceeds to repeatedly vomit following his numerous attempts. The description of the food as being tasteless suggests that he cannot consume physical sustenance because he has not yet been spiritually satisfied by any literary successes; it was not food that he earned with his own effort and therefore carried no satisfaction. The protagonist’s wandering thoughts and revelations throughout the novel are accompanied by constant physical wandering, which also exemplifies this relationship between the body and spirit. The protagonist fails to draw a solid conclusion about anything, just as how he continues to wander around the city aimlessly. An example of this would be his thoughts regarding God; while he states that his discovery of the word “kuboaa” was “…thanks to God” (Hamsun 79), by the next page he exclaims: “God in heaven, how black it is!” (Hamsun 80) However, in the fourth part of the novel, as the protagonist approaches his moment of catharsis, he ceases his wandering and gets himself a room. The protagonist also physically departs from Christiania, a symbol of a time of...

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