I wouldn’t normally read a fictional story like Fifty Shades of Grey about a forbidden sexuality but it has become a publishing phenomenon. It has captured the attention of a whole cross-section of conservative people, especially women, and not due to literary merit.
Rather clumsy at times, the book develops its own clichés describing the main characters’ sexual chemistry and sexual encounters. It is the story of first love and sexual discovery by an inexperienced young student of literature, Anastasia Steele. Her lover is a highly successful man with an unusual way of finding sexual gratification … through the art of BDSM. There is no doubt that he is talented and capable in the field of Bondage, Domination and Submission, and Sado-Masochism. Christian Grey’s journey to this point has been a tortured one. However, he has reconciled himself to, and will not deny or excuse, his truth. They come from very different backgrounds which inform their expectations. His fascination with her seems to arise from her outspoken expectations of an uncomplicated love. In contrast, his path to success has come through more taboo relationships and more unusual sexual experiences.
They make love for her first time but thereafter it is all ‘hard fucking’. His enjoyment of the power play and possession of another may be a way of avoiding his emotional self. She tentatively submits as she discovers her sexual self in the shadow land of pain and pleasure. The sexual chemistry is what unites them in sensual exploration and passionate sex. He is intuitive and expert whilst she is easily orgasmic and seems capable of even coming to order. The unsettling struggle between them is her need for emotional connection and his need for domination gratified through administering pain.
This tension reaches a climax when she makes a desperate bid for a deeper connection. She submits unconditionally to him only to discover her own boundaries and the visceral anger at their violation. The couple part company in the pain of an unreconcilable love. The mix of love, sex, money, innocence and the dark side of the human psyche are a winning combination. The sad conclusion of the book is that sexual chemistry alone doesn’t guarantee a relationship.
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