43 pages 1 hour read

E. L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2011

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.


Power and Control

Christian Grey’s need for power and control is clear from the moment he and Ana meet. She calls him a control freak, and he says, “Oh, I exercise control in all things, Miss Steele” (8), establishing the defining quality of his character. Ana’s innocence and inexperience make her a perfect target for Christian. She has no previous experience in love or sex, meaning she has no prior relationships to which she can compare her budding relationship with Christian, which is mired in a constant struggle of power and control. Christian wants her to give herself entirely over to his choices and desires, but Ana doesn’t want to relinquish all her power. She knows her power lies in how much Christian physically desires her, but she tries to hold onto all other personal power with him by negotiating the contract, engaging in banter, and physically leaving, removing herself from his sphere of control.

Dominant/submissive relationships are designed to highlight power dynamics. Cynthia Slater, an early leader in the BDSM community, defines such relationships as “a consensual, eroticized exchange of power.” When healthy, both the dominant and the submissive have a certain degree of power. In theory, the dominant does what he pleases, but in practice, the submissive has much control in that she gets to decide where the limits lie.