Dec 052012
 

They say the only way out of hell is through, and here we go into the last third of the Fifty Shades trilogy.

If Fifty Shades of Grey roughly parallels Richardson’s Pamela, Darker is also a rough parallel of Richardson’s Clarissa. Ana is drawn into a reality completely controlled by Christian, just as Lovelace completely controls Clarissa’s environment. Unlike Clarissa, Ana eagerly accepts her man’s marriage proposal, despite that nothing has really been resolved in their relationship.

Like book 2, this book opens with another flashback to Christian’s childhood in his POV, showing when his mother “the crack whore” died. This is the “more trauma, more suffering” method of character development. Christian apparently wakes up screaming about this regularly.

Chapter 1 opens with Ana and Christian on their honeymoon. This is a curious move on the part of the writer, since it starts the third book after the wedding instead of putting the wedding at the end of the story. It leaves the narrative with nowhere to go but down.

There’s a protracted flashback of their wedding and reception (more class porn), followed by a flight in Christian’s private jet to Europe for the honeymoon. Christian says “mine” in reference to Ana so many times I kept thinking of the seagulls in Finding Nemo. To paraphrase Tolstoy, all happy couples are happy in the same way, and its hard to make it interesting.

The honeymoon doesn’t last long, so to speak. Lounging on the beach on the French Riviera, Christian is still jealous and possessive, criticizing Ana for wearing a bikini too small. Later, however, he and Ana make out in full view of other beachgoers. Christian doesn’t mind others seeing Ana in a sexual situation, or Ana exhibiting herself to others. What he minds is her doing it when he’s not in control.

The chapter ends with Christian getting angry because Ana has dared to go topless on a French beach, becoming one of the hundreds of topless women around. Despite Christian’s big epiphany in the last book, and their marriage, things haven’t changed. Nobody get’s to see Ana’s breasts unless he says so.

I find this to be the most puzzling aspect of this book when trying to explain its popularity. That heterosexual women would fantasize about a romance with a rich, powerful, handsome man at least makes sense. That he would have a tortured past and need to be loved into wellness is, while pernicious, also comprehensible. But why is Christian still a short-tempered, unpredictable, controlling, jealous bundle of neuroses whom Ana fears? Is this what turns EL James and her millions of readers on? If Christian didn’t tick off so many boxes on the abuse checklist, would the story have the same appeal?

  One Response to “The Curious Kinky Person’s Guide to Fifty Shades Freed: prologue & Chapter 1”

  1. I suspect if he wasn’t attractive, they would all see the truth.

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