Affective Stylistic Analysis of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey

Shiela M. Manzanilla, Ph.D.
Department of Languages, Literature and Humanities
MA in Applied Linguistics Program


The language of literature is one of the important catalysts of society’s perceptions on gender issues. In fact, gender equality issues in numerous literary pieces affected notions on relationships. This study analyzed the trilogy of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey to divulge its complexities as a gender discourse. The novel, being dubbed as sexually explicit, is rich of symbols and linguistic strategies in the texts, centering on lust and submission. The novels (i.e.-the trilogy) were subjected to affective stylistic analysis using the principles of sociolinguistics. Results show that Fish’s Affective Stylistics Approach (1980) reveals how the author used words and chose their syntactic order to uncover how such choices (or “manipulations”) in language may have shaped the novels as gender discourse in the minds of her readers. The author’s choice of using the first person point of view, the stream of consciousness, historical present verb tense, and vivid descriptive terms as her general style profoundly constructed the novels as a gender discourse whose evidences can be seen through sociolinguistic analysis of significant extracts.

Keywords: gender discourse, erotica, stylistics, literary perception and reception, sociolinguistics

Full Text: PDF
Philippine Copyright 2015

Alliston, A. & Greenfield, S. (29 March 2012). ‘Mommy porn’ novel has retro message”. CNN. Retrieved on January 20, 2015 from http://edi-

Bernstein, B. (1964). Elaborated and Restricted Codes: Their Social Origins and Some Consequences. American Anthropologist, 66. 55–69. doi:10.1525/aa.1964.66.suppl_3.02a00030

Coates, J. (1986). Women, men and language: A sociolinguistic account of gender differences in language. London: Longman.

Coates, J. [Ed]. (1998). Language and Gender: A Reader. Oxford: Blackwell.

Dowd, M. (31 March 2012). “She’s Fit to Be Tied”. The New York Times. Retrieved on January 20, 2015 from

Eagleton, T. (1996). “Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, and Reception Theory.” Literary theory. MA, USA: Blackwell, pp. 47-78.

Fairclough, N. (2003). Textual analysis for social research. London, UK: Routledge.

Fish, S.E. (1980). “Literature in the reader: Affective stylistics.” In Tompkins, J.P. (Ed.), Reader-Response Criticism: From Formalism to Post-Structuralism. USA: The John Hopkins University Press.

Fish, S.E. (1996). “What is stylistics and why are they saying such terrible things about it?” In Weber, J. (Ed.). The stylistics reader: From Roman Jakobson to the present. Great Britain: Arnold.

Guinto, N. (2012). Piecing the puzzle: Affective stylistic analysis of Arturo Rotor’s Zita. (Unpublished Paper), University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

International Reading Association. (2003). Defining Style. Date Retrieved:March 14, 2014 from

Keyton, J. (2011). Communication research: Asking questions, finding answers. New York, USA: McGraw Hill.

Kornbluth, J. (12 March 2012). “’Fifty Shades Of Grey’: Is The Hottest-Selling Book In America Really Just ‘S&M For Dummies?’”. The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 20, 2015 from

Lakoff, R. (1973 April). “Language and woman’s place.” Language in Society, 2(1). pp. 45-80.

Lakoff, R. (1975). Language and women’s place. New York: Harper & Row.

Salonga, A. (2006). Representing Men’s and Women’s Speech: A Linguistic Analysis of Nick Joaquin’s “The Summer Solstice.” Journal of English Stud-
ies and Comparative Literature, 9(1). 20-29.

Tyson L. (2006). “Affective Stylistics.” Critical theory today, 2nd Ed. NY, USA: Routledge.

Wolfram, W. & Schilling-Estes, N. (2006). American English: Dialects and variation. USA: Wiley-Blackwell.