Fifty Shades vs. Twilight

by Janani Hariharan on May 9, 2013

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The Fifty Shades trilogy certainly makes for a very interesting read, and that’s putting it mildly.  When I was some 50 pages into the first book, I began to notice striking similarities to another popular series- the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. On checking this up online, I found that the 50 Shades series had indeed been inspired by Twilight; E. L. James had originally intended it to be fan fiction.

There are striking similarities. For one, both the lead male characters share controlling tendencies and tragic pasts, leading to their present behaviors. And again, the lady’s parents are separated with the dad being a cop/ex-soldier with an inability to express emotions. Bella Swan was widely criticized as being a character with low self-esteem, the character was found to be not quite believable by some. Ana Steele is seen to not think much of herself as well, her outstanding quality being her desire for independence. After a temporary break of the relationship, the hero deems himself incapable of ever hurting the girl again, because his nature won’t allow him to. Four on four, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. 

In Meyer’s series, Carlisle was the omniscient doctor whom Edward relied on in every accident Bella-related. The same applies to Christian’s mother, Grace Trevelyan-Grey in the 50 Shades series. 

James seems to have substituted the mysterious vampire way of life with BDSM and sexual sadism. Interestingly, both subjects used to be considered taboo and repulsive, sometimes even horrendous, by and large. After the publication of these books though, people have started viewing vampirism and alternate expressions of sexuality in a different way.

As you continue reading, the scenes become more and more alike, upto a point where they induce déjá vu. The scenes in Fifty Shades Freed where the couple is forced to confront the possibility of an unplanned baby repeats itself exactly on the same lines. 
 
An interesting difference from Twilight lies in the introduction of the psychiatrist, Dr. John Flynn. Christian seems to count upon him in most emergencies, and he’s reported to be the only doctor who can help Christian with his childhood angst. I wonder how the original series would’ve gone had there been a vampire psychiatrist involved.
 
There are also slight changes with respect to the secondary characters- Mia seems to be modeled almost perfectly on Alice, while Elliot is quite obviously Emmett’s replacement. Elena could be called a Rosalie-like character, but the Jasper of Twilight seems missing. However, these are very minor differences and in no way do they alter the storyline significantly. 
 
To the credit of the 50 Shades series, the sex scenes, which seem to be the main USP for the majority of readers, certainly manage to be graphic and palpable. Something I noticed was that, as the emotional relationship between the characters evolved, so did their sexual relationship. This definitely adds to the maturity quotient. 
 
The series might not go down well with everyone, or keep you on the edge of your seat, especially if you’ve read the original series. In that case, reading the books might not be much of a deal, given that you already know exactly how the story is going to pan out. But hey, it’s worth a shot, and who knows? It might just be your cup of tea.

Written by Janani Hariharan

Wanderer, nature freak and lover of all things science-y. Certified devourer of all printed matter.

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