So, there are a lot of people who say there’s no storyline to Fifty Shades of Grey. They’re also too awkward to Google it, I suppose, and have the Wiki page on their history. Well, rest assured because here is the G rated blow by blow account [no pun intended]. It isn’t just about… well, what you’ve heard it’s about.
Enter Anastasia Steele, our female protagonist. She is doing an interview of a billionaire who sponsors her school, filling in for her friend Kate who is sick.
She meets Christian Grey, a handsome entrepreneur who is witty, smart and obviously insanely rich. And perhaps just a little insane.
They have a great interview, after which they feel close to each other, chemistry beginning between the two of them [like you’re average rom-com].
Christian and Ana begin to get closer, and although he tries to pull away, afraid that he’ll hurt her [this is the part reminiscent of “Twilight”], he just cannot resist her, and she him, although it begins to become apparent that he likes control [which is how he’s gotten to this point in his business ventures], and can swing from mood to mood easily [hence the “fifty shades”, referring to his personality]. Up until this point, everything is sunshine and lollipops.
As the novel progresses, the two decide to begin a relationship, although it becomes apparent to Ana that, despite her feelings towards him, he doesn’t reciprocate them. Perhaps he can’t. He doesn’t know how to love [Beauty and the Beast style]. He showers her with gifts, including a laptop, phone and car [for her “own safety”, as she owns an old VW Beetle], and tries to give her the love she wants, but it turns out- drum roll please- he prefers S&M [sadism- hurting others- and masochism –getting hurt himself] during sex, which is the part many people don’t like. I myself skipped over those parts. There are some things people just don’t need to read in agonising detail. Anyway, Ana wants to try to please Christian, as she has strong feelings for him, but realises, at the end of the novel, she cannot be what he wants her to be.
There- we’re done.
My personal opinion on the novel is just as fluctuating as the great Mr. Grey himself. On one hand, I see the appeal- a dark brooding type, with a mysterious past. Throughout the novel, we are told little snippets of what made Christian the type of man that he is, and it’s frankly quite interesting. We’re also meant to relate to Ana, who is experiencing this all for the first time- she has no idea what’s going on and learns it from scratch, so, so do we. Their relationship and it’s dynamics are intriguing, and maybe [for those who are interested], there is something to be learned. [My face is burning, but I promised I’d tell you what it’s about. *shivers*]
However– the language and descriptions get overly descriptive at times. I know this is meant to be part of the appeal, but it’s really over the top. There are avid depictions of what is being done, how it feels, and why, which is just something not everyone can get through.
It’s also been pointed out that it’s slightly [or, rather, very] offensive towards women. Christian does not want to be touched, does not [at first] want to fall in love, and always wants to be in control- he just wants someone to submit to him. The famous grey tie is used to incapacitate Ana [in case you were wondering] so she cannot even hug him. In 50 Shades, it is hinted that he may have found more with Ana, and is willing to do what she wants, but let’s be honest. He’s controlling to the point where she is not allowed to roll her eyes without fearing his reaction. He’s pushy to the point where she has to accept illustrious gifts from him, even though she does not want to. He makes her sign a contract promising not to tell anyone anything about their “arrangement”. He is a controlling dude.
Ana also really gives weight to the idea that a woman cannot be happy without the perfect man. She [this part is sometimes left out] does not want to be a –capital S- Submissive [i.e. someone who does what the Dominant, in this case, Christian Grey, wants]. She feels uncomfortable about it, and yet lets him do what he likes because she loves him. She lets him perform degrading acts on her because she knows it makes him happy, and instead of telling him to go and get his issues ironed out, she just keeps giving in, until the very end of the novel when she says she can’t take it anymore. Spoiler alert: the very next novel takes all of two pages before, attracted by his irresistible allure, she runs straight back into his arms. It’s very disturbing and sad, this part, and it’s what sets it apart from your average novel. At times Christian pushes her to explore her sexuality consensually [and you graphically go through the details of it], but at other times it is clear to the reader that Ana is uncomfortable and lets him treat her like a slave- a literal, unpaid, inferior human being- because she wants to make him happy.
In the end, I guess it’s up to you whether you want to read the book for yourself, or see the movie. I’ve heard that the movie is actually filmed badly, and is rather cliché, however, I have not watched it and do not plan to. You can’t skip pages in a film.
Food for thought.
.p.s. the following image I just googled to put in my post, but it’s from ibtimes.com who have written a post called “50 Shades of Abuse”. I’ve included the link if you’d like to take a look.