Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey Literary Elements


Erotic romance novel

Setting and Context

Seattle and the surrounding region of the Pacific Northwest, in May and June 2011

Narrator and Point of View

The novel is narrated in the first-person by the protagonist, Anastasia Steele. All of the action is presented from her point of view, and readers only get to experience the thoughts and feelings of other characters based on their interactions with Ana.

Tone and Mood

The tone of the novel is excited, charged, and sometimes tense, reflecting Ana's passionate emotions as she falls deeper and deeper in love with Christian. The mood is often sultry and provocative, but can also be foreboding. Ana is highly aroused by Christian, but sometimes also afraid of him, and the tone reflects this.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The main protagonist is Anastasia Steele. The main antagonist is Christian’s obsession with dominance and his refusal to engage in emotional intimacy.

Major Conflict

The major conflict happens between Christian and Anastasia. They have an intense chemistry and longing to be together, but their views on relationships are fundamentally opposed. Christian wants control, boundaries, and clear limits, whereas Ana wants love, intimacy, and safety.


The climax happens when, at Ana's request, Christian hits Ana repeatedly with a belt. This act surpasses her threshold for the punishment she can tolerate, and makes her realize that she cannot continue the relationship with Christian.


One day, Christian Grey appears at the hardware store where Anastasia Steele works, and buys cable ties, tape, rope, and two overalls. His purchases are a part of the foreshadowing, where the author hints at the fact that Christian is fond of BDSM.




The novel alludes to many literary figures such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Thomas Hardy. Ana is an English major and avid reader; her ideas about love and relationships are in fact largely based on what she has read in novels.


See section on Imagery





Metonymy and Synecdoche