The Clash Between The Ideals Of Collectivism And Individualism Essay

The Clash Between The Ideals Of Collectivism And Individualism Essay

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The clash between the ideals of collectivism and individualism has been a prominent feature in the cultures of many peoples. This idea is highlighted in the novel Perfume: The Story of A Murderer where Patrick Suskind utilizes the main character of the novel in order to comment on the two ideologies. Collectivism is an ideology based in the idea that the community comes before the individual. It unquestionably clashes with the complete opposite ideology of individualism, a doctrine that values the individual above the collective society. These philosophies are continually juxtaposed throughout the novel and this highlights the beneficial factors as well as the drawbacks of each tenet. Suskind employs this juxtaposition to comment on the notion that individualism is the superior ideology.
Collectivism is featured prominently through the main character of the novel. The protagonist, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is an archetypal instance of collectivism. Throughout the novel, his ultimate goal is to masterfully create a perfume composed of the the purest human scent, that of a virginal girl. For this, Grenouille collects the scents of many young women by encasing their odor in a waxy oil substance after he murders them. These scents are used as the key building blocks for his ultimate scent. This procedure is an example of collectivism in the novel. This concept is shown in other ways in the novel. The primary instance is that when Grenouille is first learning the ways of perfumery. He discovers that it takes thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of individual rose petals to create a diminutive sized volume of concentrated essence of perfume. This, along with endless hours of hard labour, he learns, is all required to create this alm...


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...nabalisation of Grenouille, “no one said a word...they were all a little embarrassed and afraid to look at one another. They had all, whether man or woman, committed a murder or some other despicable crime at one time or another. But to eat a human being? They would never, so they thought, have been capable of anything that horrible” (255). Both endings involve the perfume, a symbol of collectivism and in both instances, an unspeakable event ensued. This further spotlights the idea of collectivism as deplorable.
Suskind employs juxtapositional methods to comment on the idea that individualism is the more desirable ideology. Throughout the novel the principles of collectivism and individualism clash accentuating the benefits and deterrents of each philosophy. Through the use of the novel, Suskind makes his point that the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.

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