43 pages 1 hour read

E. L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2011

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Character Analysis

Anastasia “Ana” Steele

Ana, the protagonist, is a 21-year-old English literature major at the University of Washington, Vancouver. Ana is insecure, inexperienced, and innocent regarding romantic relationships and sex. She has never had a boyfriend or done anything sexual, either alone or with another person. She is waiting to meet someone for whom she feels “fabled trembling knees, heart-in-my-mouth, butterflies-in-my-belly moments” (22). She wants to feel the way heroines do after encountering her “literary romantic heroes” (22). When she meets Christian Grey, she feels this way for the first time.

Ana’s character fulfills the “plain girl” trope, also known as plain Jane. She sees herself as ordinary and unremarkable, reflecting, “I’m too pale, too skinny, too scruffy, uncoordinated, my long list of faults goes on” (49). She’s also easily flustered and blushes constantly. She feels inferior to her friend and roommate, Kate, whom she considers beautiful and confident. Despite being a plain Jane, Ana is chosen by Christian Grey, an extremely attractive, wealthy, and powerful man. His attention takes her from ordinary to special. This is foreshadowed by her comment on the art in Christian’s office: “They’re lovely. Raising the ordinary to extraordinary” (6). This is exactly what happens to Ana once she becomes the object of Christian’s desire.