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Literature / Fifty Shades of Grey

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Fifty Shades of Grey is an erotic novel that started life as a Twilight fanfic called "Master of the Universe." Basically, same characters, but less vampire, more sex. Then, the character names were changed from Edward Cullen and Bella Swan to Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, and now it is not a fanfic but legit fic for sale.

"...reimagine[s] the Bella and Edward love affair set in contemporary Seattle, Washington with Bella as the young college graduate virgin and Edward as the masterful billionaire with secret sexual predilections.”

The book got four sequels. The first two, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, is the story of what happened to Ana after the first book ended. The other two are the POV sequels Grey and Darker that retell the first two books from Christian's point of view. (Despite what you might assume, E.L. James has, reportedly, no plans for a retelling of the final novel from Christian's perspective.)


The first three books were made into same-titled films, released over 2015-2018. These have their own page here.

Tropes used:

  • Artistic License: The depiction of the BDSM relationship and scenarios, which bear little relation to real world BDSM practices and relationships, which emphasize the importance of informed consent, negotiation, safewords and safety for all participants under the Safe, Sane, and Consensual mantra.
  • Author Avatar: Not necessarily Ana. Mrs. Robinson's initials are E.L.
  • Beta Couple: Kate and Elliot. Aside from a bit of tension in book three they're the happy, emotionally healthy couple in contrast to Christian and Ana's constant drama.
  • Catchphrase: Anastasia: "Oh, my."
  • Curves in All the Right Places: A male version in the way Christian's pants hang from his hips in just the right way.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Christian Grey. Had an abusive childhood. Refers to his mother as "Crack whore."
  • Disappeared Dad: Both Christian and Ana.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • In Chapter 12, when Ana sends an email to Grey saying that she doesn't want to get into BDSM and "it's been nice knowing you," Grey's immediate response is to break into her duplex apartment, tie her up—the only thing he asks permission for—and then rape her into submission. (Despite the fact that Ana has been freaking out over BDSM for several chapters, she claims that the email was a joke. Neither Ana nor her author seem to realize that this doesn't make Grey's actions one bit less horrific.)
    • He also threatens to punish Ana by raping her in public on two occasions—once when he believes Ana has spoken on the phone to a male friend (she hasn't) and once when Ana refuses an extremely expensive present. His response in the first case is to threaten to screw her in the elevator going from his penthouse to the lobby (when anyone could walk in); in the second case, he threatens to hit her and then screw her on the hood of the car, because she belongs to him, and if he wants to give her Gift X, he WILL
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Famously, the beginning of the first book is about Ana going to interview Christian for the college newspaper. For the rest of the series, Christian is careful to avoid the press.
  • Expy: A lot of characters are similar to their original Twilight templates, with some characteristic of movie actors mixed in: Ana is a clumsy virgin who bites her lip a lot and has an absent-minded mother. Christian is an orphan adopted into a rich family, one of his adoptive parents is a doctor, he plays piano and has a brother and a sister whom Kate and Ethan Kavanagh, blonde siblings, hook up with respectively. Etc ad nauseum.
  • Fiction 500: Christian Grey owns a yacht, a helicopter, a private plane (complete with attractive stewardess), collects art, and has the resources to fly to Georgia at the drop of a hat just to see Ana.
  • Gold Digger: Anastasia is worried that being with Christian will make people suspect that her main love is Christian's cash. Adding credibility to this is the fact that before she moves in with Christian, Ana lived with Kate, whose parents paid their rent for them, and once she's moved to Christian's place, she's not in a hurry to return the dress she borrowed from Kate.
  • Hates Being Touched: Christian cured by The Power of Love.
  • I Can Change My Beloved: Eventually switches to nauseating Love Redeems, without any real reason.
  • Informed Ability: Ana's supposed to be knowledgeable enough about English literature to major in it, but she never shows any deeper knowledge about the books she's read.
  • Love Hungry: Ana and Grey are always talking about how they're hungry for sex and/or each other.
  • The Ingenue: Anastasia Steele. Twenty-one, naive, and so virginal she never even masturbated before meeting Christian Grey.
  • Mommy Issues: Christian. He chooses subs that look like his mother so he could beat them.
  • More Than Mind Control: In Chapter 13, Ana accuses Grey outright of using sex as a weapon to get what he wants. Not only that, he admits it.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Jack Hyde.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Christian Grey AND Ana Steele. Grey breaks into her duplex and rapes her into submission when he receives a rejection email; when Grey refuses to kiss Ana, this is her response (which is straight out of New Moon):
    Once underneath the dark, cold concrete of the garage with its bleak fluorescent light, I lean against the wall and put my head in my hands. What was I thinking? Unbidden and unwelcome tears pool in my eyes. Why am I crying? I sink to the ground, angry at myself for this senseless reaction. Drawing up my knees, I fold in on myself. I want to make myself as small as possible. Perhaps this nonsensical pain will be smaller the smaller I am.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Ana has a number of orgasms during the rape in Chapter 12. This is presented as equaling consent. Apparently Ana's unaware that orgasm can happen during rape—or that it doesn't mean that you've consented to anything. This is also Christian Grey's rationalization in Chapter 16 after he spanks and then screws Ana as punishment for daring to roll her eyes at him, despite Ana telling him repeatedly that, whatever her physical response, she "didn't like it" and "would rather that [he] didn't do it again."
  • Pimped-Out Car: And a Pimped Out Helicopter, too.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: We pretty much never see Christian actually being at his office managing his many businesses. The few times we do see him working, he's off doing something that's unrelated to his work, and giving orders to a subordinate over his phone.
  • Porn Stash: Homemade, at that.
  • Property of Love: Christian AND Anna love to tell each other "You're mine."
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend/Yandere: Leila, Christian's ex-sub.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Christian lapses into this when he gets upset, which is often.
  • Purple Prose:
    • "You beguile me, Christian. Completely overwhelm me. I feel like Icarus flying too close to the sun."
    • "Placing my head on my knees, I let the irrational tears fall unrestrained. I am crying over the loss of something I never had. How ridiculous. Mourning something that never was – my dashed hopes, dashed dreams, and my soured expectations."
  • Riddle for the Ages: Why did the press-averse Christian Grey agree to be interviewed for a college newspaper?
  • Romanticized Abuse: Ana's relationships with Christian Grey.
  • Safe Word: The standard red for stop yellow for slow down are established in Chapter 11 and it is implied that Ana could have stopped any sex that happened or was threatened after that point.
  • Self-Plagiarism: First book matches the first third of the fanfic 89%.
  • Small Reference Pools: Ana, who is an English major, only mentions books that you'll have heard of even if you aren't an English major.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Christian Grey. Again, he and Ana recognize his stalker tendencies; the narrative simply presents this as romantic.
  • Therapy Is for the Weak: Christian seems to think so. So does his adoptive family, probably. Seeing as they adopted a deeply traumatised child and never bothered to seek professional help. There is a psychiatrist, but he is only there for exposition.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Anastasia as the main character, Kate as her same-gender best friend and Jose as the opposite gender, close friend that could be a love interest.
  • Title Drop: a rare 3 different titles dropped, Fifty Shades and Master of the Universe being said multiple times and Twilight, referring to the time at night, being said once in the second book.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The most prominent example is when, in first person present tense, Ana gives a detailed explanation of her surroundings and right afterwards claims that she doesn't get a chance to see what her surroundings look like.
  • White Man's Burden: Darfur, of all things, is dragged into the book to demonstrate just how rich and generous Christian Grey is.
  • You Keep Using That Word:
    • Anastasia keeps mentioning that her subconscious is yelling at her, reminding her of something, or something else in that vein. But by definition, it's impossible to feel what's going on in your subconscious.
    • At one point, Ana narrates that she wordlessly whispers the words "I haven’t been out on my own since I got married" to her bodyguard. However, it's logically impossible to whisper words wordlessly.

Alternative Title(s): Fifty Shades Of Gray, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed


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