Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Characters (in order of appearance)

  • Grenouille's mother – Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was her fifth baby. She had claimed her first four were stillbirths or "semi-stillbirths". In her mid-twenties, with most of her teeth left, "some hair on her head", and a touch of gout, syphilis and consumption (tuberculosis), she was still quite pretty.
  • Jean-Baptiste Grenouille – Protagonist. Born 17 July 1738.
  • Jeanne Bussie – One of Grenouille's many wet-nurses. She is the first person to realise he has no scent and claims he is sucking all the life out of her.
  • Father Terrier – He is in charge of the church's charities and distribution of its money to the poor and needy. He first thinks Grenouille is a cute baby, but once Grenouille begins to sniff Terrier, the priest is highly disturbed and sends the baby to a boarding house.
  • Madame Gaillard – She has no sense of smell, due to being hit across the face with a poker in her younger years, so she does not know that Grenouille has no scent. In charge of a boarding house, her goal in life is to save enough money to have a proper death and funeral. Madame's poor sense of smell and ignorance about Grenouille's gifts, coupled with his assistance in finding her hidden money through his olfactory ability, caused Madame to believe he had second sight (psychic). She believed that people with second sight bring bad luck and death. Out of this fear, Madame sells Grenouille to the tanner, Grimal. She loses all her money in old age, dies a miserable death in the Hôtel Dieu (Hotel of God) and is not even buried after her death, but rather thrown into a mass grave.
  • Children at the Boarding House – They are repulsed by Grenouille and even try, in vain, to suffocate him with rags and blankets while Grenouille is asleep.
  • Grimal – A tanner who lives near the river in the rue de la Mortellerie. Grenouille works for him from age eight into his early youth until Baldini pays for him to be released. With this immense new income of money, he wastes it on alcohol in one go, allowing his drunkenness to cause him to fall in to a river and die.
  • The Plum Girl – Her natural scent is that of sea breeze, water lilies, and apricot blossoms; it is a rich, perfectly balanced and magical scent. She has red hair and wears a gray, sleeveless dress. She is halving plums when Grenouille kills her as his first victim.
  • Giuseppe Baldini – An old perfumer. Lacking a gift for it, he merely knows the art of perfumery. He owns a perfume shop filled with a strong amalgam of scents. The shop is so intoxicating that it scares away potential customers; Baldini is too dense to realise this fact. The shop is located in the middle of a bridge, the Pont-au-Change. He takes on Grenouille as an apprentice and becomes rich from the perfumes that Grenouille creates for him. He ends up giving Grenouille journeyman papers, which will help Grenouille in his future travels. After Grenouille leaves him, his house and warehouses plunge into the river below as the bridge finally collapses.
  • Chénier – Baldini's assistant. He is somewhat younger than Baldini. He knows Baldini is talentless, but still boasts Baldini's skills in hopes that one day he will inherit Baldini's perfume shop.
  • Pélissier – Never actually appears in novel. He is only talked about because he is considered the most innovative perfumer in Paris, despite not having any formal training.
  • Taillade-Espinasse – Marquis, liege lord of a town of Pierrefort and a member of parliament, is an amateur scientist who develops indulgent and ridiculous theses (fluidal theory), which he supposedly demonstrates on Grenouille—feeding him, providing him with new clothes and giving him the opportunity to create a perfume. The Marquis dies soon after Grenouille's "disappearance" while pursuing his fluidal theory by attempting to live alone on a secluded mountain.
  • Madame Arnulfi – A lively, black-haired woman of around thirty. She has been widowed for almost a year. She owns the perfume business of her dead husband and has a journeyman named Druot, who is also her lover. She hires Grenouille as her second journeyman.
  • Dominique Druot – Arnulfi's journeyman and lover. He is the size of a Hun and is of average intelligence. Grenouille works under him as second journeyman. Druot is later hanged for Grenouille's crimes.
  • Antoine Richis – Second consul and the richest man in Grasse, Laure's father.
  • Laure Richis – A beautiful red-headed girl, daughter of Antoine Richis. Her scent is the fragrance of Grenouille's dreams and is central to his plans of creating a perfume that will make people love him.

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