“Fifty Shades of Grey”: meaning and analysis of the book by E. L. James

“Fifty Shades of Grey”: meaning and analysis of the book by E. L. James Literature

Many people know that this trilogy was originally written as a very talented Twilight fanfic. But if one has true talent, it will not go unnoticed! That’s what happened with this book.

The fanfic was published on a famous site called Fanficion.net. It didn’t take long for the positive reviews and ratings to come in, but with them came criticism of the explicit scenes. As a result, E.L. James removed the work from the resource and posted it on her personal site, FiftyShades.com. Some time later she rewrote and expanded the text into a stand-alone work consisting of three books.

Two Approaches to Relationships in 50 Shades of Gray

The main plot collision of the book is the clash of two approaches to relationships, two worlds – the world of Anastasia Steele and the world of Christian Grey. Anastasia calls herself a romantic, but in fact her expectations from relationships are quite simple – she wants to be “like normal people”, go to the movies and restaurants together, talk heart to heart. Her landmarks are the relationships of those around her: watching Kate and Elliot’s flirtations, the cheerful chatter of her mother and her new husband Bob, Ana worries that she will never be able to experience such simple, understandable feelings with Christian.

Anya would like Christian to behave “like a normal person”

The second type of relationship is those familiar to Christian Grey. “I don’t make love – I fuck. Tough, ”the millionaire cuts off in a conversation with Ana. Romantic relationships are unacceptable for him, he avoids appearing in the company of girls, which leads ordinary people to think that Christian is gay. In communicating with Ana, even though Christian is obviously in love, he tries to record all the stages of the development of their relationship as much as possible, bring everything in line with the document, even makes the girl sign a non-disclosure agreement on what is happening between them.

Interaction of the main characters

In the process of acquaintance and interaction of the main characters, their worlds begin to penetrate each other. This does not happen without excesses (the underlying causes of which we will discuss below). Although it is quite obvious that the characters and their points of view on relationships are incompatible, there is still something that draws them to each other. For Ana, it’s a passion. At the beginning of the book, we see her clumsy, constrained, not reacting in any way to signs of attention from her friend Jose. Christian reveals Ana’s sexual potential, one of the telling details here is the nervous pencil biting. Ana chews on her pencil like a schoolgirl when she’s confused, but Christian is turned on by the gesture. Thanks to Christian, Ana changes her wardrobe, begins to look more mature, behaves more relaxed.

“I want you to feel free to be naked,” Christian demands.

Finally, Christian deprives Anastasia of her virginity, and in the future, the girl herself is already looking for sexual intimacy with him, although she is frightened by the inclinations of the chosen one. That “light” entry into BDSM, which Christian shows her, Anastacia definitely likes. Thus, having experienced true passion for the first time in her life, the girl allows Christian to draw her into his world a little – but only until she stumbles upon the limits of what is acceptable for her.

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“50 shades” accompany Christian everywhere – shirts, ties, pencils, cars

As for Christian, everything is exactly the opposite with him. Having seen the darkest sides of life since childhood, he can in no way consider himself a romantic, and his relationships with women, who, according to him, were exactly 15 before Ana, were strictly regulated by the Agreement and its irreconcilable character. However, he apparently fell in love with Anu in earnest. “What are you doing with me?” he asks the girl, and now Ana goes on a helicopter trip with him, Christian comes to Georgia for her, sends expensive gifts, buys a new car … He even offers Anna something incredible for himself – to arrange dates once a week, “like normal people.” But it is this softened state that the girl takes for Christian’s true nature, while usually he is much more cruel. In addition, this love makes Christian vulnerable to Ana’s attempts to “play” with him: she torments the young man, plays for time, avoids important conversations for Christian.

The meaning of the ending of the book “50 shades of gray”

In the finale, two approaches to relationships – let’s call them “romantic” and “violent” – clash again, as Ana’s behavior (her desire to possess Christian, subjugate his will to herself, unexpected departure to Georgia) causes a flash of anger in Christian, and he shows his real character. Seeing Christian in the role of a ruthless executioner, Ana experiences not so much physical as mental pain, which completely destroys all hopes for a happy life together. The lovers never managed to remake each other: the modest, shy Ana became relaxed under the influence of Christian, but she could not accept his cruel games. Christian’s rough nature trembled from tender feelings for Anastacia, but he also failed to break himself. Each returned to his own world again, where the ideal for Ana remains the simple and calm relationship between her mother and Bob, and for Christian – his first connection with an adult female dominant.


After that, there was even more criticism, and the negativity came, as they say, from every crevice. The trilogy was stretched everywhere it could and poured a lot of dirt on these books. A little later, the same fate awaited the film.
Many people are making saints of themselves, calling the story “crap”, “reading for whores”, “mom porn”, etc. And they themselves sit on… Excuse me, that’s none of my business!

Let’s try to figure out what’s wrong with this novel and why it’s so hated in many circles.
I don’t deny the great presence of scenes of a sexual nature, spelled out in great detail. But if you dig a little deeper…?
Critics have done an analysis of the pornographic content in Fifty Shades of Grey, and it turns out there isn’t much sex. Yes, there is 98% more porn content in the books than in romance stories (Pretty Woman, Titanic and many more), but 70% less than in the average erotic novel (Sylvia Day’s Naked for You, Inferno and Gabriel Sylvain Raynard’s Rapture series).

So what exactly do people want! Many will not be able to answer this question themselves. Some people rush to write slanders without even reading a chapter, others do not read and do not criticize, and still others accept everything as it is. Everyone has the right to perceive “shades” in their own way, but not in any way to impose their opinion on others.
Let’s continue our discussion…

The meaning of the title.

Here I will express only my own opinion about the title. Maybe some of you, my dear readers, will agree with me. So: “50 Shades of Grey”, what is the meaning of this title? In my opinion the meaning is as follows.

There is nothing purely black or purely white in human life. There is nothing that can be called good or bad in a man/woman relationship. As Christian Grey says, “…it’s all in your head. It depends only on you how you will perceive the situation: dark gray (almost black) or light gray (almost white), or maybe something in between (there are many shades, 50 to be exact). Such a name might suggest that everything is ambiguous and changeable. The characters’ varied emotions and experiences cause them to change. What seemed right and true darkens, and former evil takes on a lighter color. And the many halftones on the path from darkness to light are a reminder of how complicated our lives are.

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The philosophical and psychological component of the novel.

The book “Fifty Shades of Grey” combines two invaluable advantages: simple language and an accessible, compelling idea. For me, the novel was read in the same breath, thanks to the easy narration and not overloaded plot. But the true meaning of the story is hidden behind the vivid descriptions of the erotic scenes.

I understood this very meaning as follows: in order to have happy and reciprocal relationships one must learn to look for compromises, understand each other, and accept the person he loves with all his faults. In my opinion, the book extensively reveals the theme of relationships and psychology, the author shows that for the sake of true love, a person can become a better person, to overcome their psychological barriers. And now for a little more detail:

The basis of the novel.

The author’s idea was to show how people can change. There is nothing untouchable and indestructible if an encounter happens in life that makes you reconsider your own inner world and its values.
I think the point of Fifty Shades of Grey is this: dramatic changes can happen in everyone’s life, if you just look at things through the eyes of someone who loves you.

With the appearance of someone who wants to yield in everything, who becomes dearer than our own habits, who unwittingly forces us to think about personal priorities, everything that seemed important and clean yesterday, today turns to dust. No matter how hard such changes are given to a person, when he falls in love, he is able to bear them and start a new life, where everything unnecessary will be gone, and the main place will be taken by the person dear to his heart and soul.

The power of love

In my opinion, the “framework” of shades is as follows: neither passion, nor emotional impulses, nor material well-being can replace real values. All of these things take a back seat when people are ruled by true love.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” is Christian and Anastasia’s move to meet each other. There is that fire kindled in their hearts that compels them to endure everything, to endure every challenge, and in the end to stay together forever! Anastacia tries with all her might to help the man of her dreams break away from the eerie shadow of his horrible past cast far ahead. Everything revolves around the loving characters’ conscious choice, as necessary as it is in real life. In order to find true happiness, it is necessary to erase from one’s life everything that stands in the way of that happiness.

What’s left behind the scenes: the meaning of the book “50 shades of gray”

In the film, Christian very superficially tells Anastasia his story, and the girl never finds an answer to the questions that she constantly asks the hero: why does he like to hurt, what made him like that? However, we find comprehensive information about this in the book. I will give here a brief history of the life of Christian Gray. His biological mother was a prostitute, she did not care much for little Christian, and her pimp beat her and the child in addition. When the boy was 4 years old, his mother committed suicide, and he was adopted by the Gray family. From time to time the boy experienced outbursts of rage, caused by memories of unhappy childhood. When he was 15, an adult woman seduced him and showed him the world of BDSM – so his aggression found an outlet in sexual games.

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Christian’s relationship with an adult woman lasted 6 years – until the dominant woman’s husband found out that his wife was dating a minor. Since then, Christian has learned to take pleasure in hurting women, especially dark-haired ones – they reminded him of his mother. This fully explains his deep but unhealthy passion for Anastacia. Although their relationship is somewhat embellished in the film, in many scenes it can be understood that Christian uses BDSM as a cover for his sick, traumatized psyche in deep childhood. The grand gestures of the fabulously wealthy businessman may seem like manifestations of great love, but in reality they betray the desire to completely suppress the will of Anastasia. Christian sells her car without asking the consent of the girl herself. He loses his temper when he finds out that Ana did not warn him about leaving for Georgia, and does not allow the girl to be alone with her thoughts, appearing there after her. Throughout the film, Christian believes he has the right to break into where Ana is without any warning. He chooses what to wear, where to live, how to sleep. In words, he constantly convinces the girl that he cares about her; in fact, he inspires fear in her.

Ana, diligently ignoring all the warning signs, having convinced herself that Christian is a person like everyone else – Ana can no longer hide the truth from herself after Christian breaks down and stabs her six times with a belt. Although Christian constantly emphasized that Ana could leave at any moment, that their relationship was regulated by the Agreement, he ignores the fact that Ana does not yet belong to him documentarily and treats her like his own property. This finally opens the eyes of a naive girl and she makes the only right decision – she leaves a person whose relationship will never bring her joy.

In the finale, Anastacia makes the only right decision – to leave the mentally unbalanced millionaire.

Finale “50 shades of gray”

It is significant that in the final scene, Anastasia uses the stop word “red”, which she never used before. The safe word is not spoken during sex or BDSM games, because this is not what really hurts Anya. The real violence is not in Christian’s playroom, but in his life. Violence is not games with a whip and a stack, it is his desire to control Ana’s every move and keep her near him at any cost, regardless of her own desires. In the finale, Ana finally understands this, and when Christian, beside himself, is ready to run after the girl in order to bring her back again, Ana uses the language that he understands the most – the language of the Agreement.

Many viewers noted some crumpled ending compared to the overall development of the plot in the film. Ana and Christian’s relationship develops extremely slowly, the process of their careful convergence takes up most of the screen time. The gap is happening very rapidly, and we are not even shown what happened next. Of course, this is done with an eye to the next parts of the trilogy, but the swiftness of the final scene itself can be a metaphor for the disappointment that first love often ends in reality. We can nurse our first feelings for another person for months, but reality destroys these dreams overnight. So it happened with Ana – suddenly, overnight, the world of her falling in love collapsed, and it is this feeling of an unexpected end that the finale of the film “50 Shades of Grey” conveys.

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