Why The Elevator Kiss In ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Is So Memorable


By A. C. Rose

I did a term paper on Fifty Shades of Grey for my “Theories of Love and Romance” class. Fans of the book will enjoy this excerpt about the elevator scene and why it was so powerful.

In fairy tales, the kiss is the thing that can awakens the sleeping princess or turns the frog or beast back into a prince. Ana wanted that! But in Fifty Shades of Grey it was a refused kiss that first fueled the flames of Ana Steele’s intrigue and desire.

Christian invited Ana for coffee, and on the way back to his hotel she is nearly run over by a speeding cyclist. Christian catches her from falling. “It all happened so fast—one minute I’m falling, and the next I’m in his arms and he’s holding me tightly… He’s staring into my eyes, and I hold his anxious, burning gaze for a moment or maybe it’s forever … but eventually, my attention is drawn to his beautiful mouth. And for the first time in my 21 years, I want to be kissed. I want to feel his mouth on mine.” (p. 48)

They are both deeply drawn and moved by this moment, but Christian, knowing her innocence and his own darkness, refuses to kiss her.

“Anastasia, you should steer clear of me. I’m not the man for you,” he whispers. She leaves the situation fearing she’s misread his interest and he leaves even more desirous of her.

When they finally do kiss, it is in an uncontainable eruption of passion and it is the action that fully launches the erotic adventure between Christian and Ana—and the reader. It, of course, occurs at the Heathman Hotel, before the characters have had a sexual experience, and before Ana has signed the NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) that Christian insisted must be in place before their relationship could begin.

Since paperwork and agreements were a huge part of book one in the trilogy, this scene showed the sheer force of their attraction and illustrates so many of the erotic cues that got the heroine, and the reader, so fully engaged in the story. This passage has become legendary among fans.

“We walk in silence down the corridor toward the elevator. As we wait I peek up at him through my lashes, and he looks out of the corner of his eyes down at me. I smile, and his lips twitch.
The elevator arrives, and we step in. We’re alone. Suddenly, for some reason, possibly our proximity in such enclosed space, the atmosphere between us changes, charged with an electric, exhilarating anticipation. My breathing alters as my heart races. His head turns fractionally toward me, his eyes darkest slate. I bite my lip.”

“Oh, fuck the paperwork,” he growls. He lunges at me, pushing me against the wall of the elevator. Before I know it, he’s got both of my hands in a viselike grip above my head, and he’s pinning me to the wall using his hips. Holy sh-t. His other hand grabs my hair and yanks down, bringing my face, up and his lips are on me. It’s not painful. I moan into his mouth, giving his tongue an opening. He takes full advantage, his tongue expertly exploring my mouth. I have never been kissed like this. My tongue tentatively strokes his and joins his in a slow, erotic dance that is all about touch and sensation, all bump and grind. He brings his hand up to grasp my chin and holds me in place. I’m helpless, my hands pinned, my face held, and his hips restraining me. His erection against my belly. Oh my… He wants me. Christian Grey, Greek God, wants me, and I want him here, here, now, in the elevator.” (P. 77-78)

When the elevator stops and the kiss abruptly ended, they walk out to the lobby: “I struggle to keep up with him because my wits have been thoroughly and royally scattered all over the floors and walls of elevator three in the Heathman Hotel.” Ana goes off to work still reeling from the experience. “The memory of our kiss this morning comes back to haunt me. I have thought of nothing else all day… to say I was distracted would be the understatement of the year.” (P. 87)

Understanding the chemistry of a kiss can help explain the desire and sexual awakening Ana felt, as well as understanding why she felt fragmented afterwards, and distracted, because the kiss ended suddenly.

In The Science of Kissing, Sheril Kirshenbaum says that a lot goes on in the body before a kiss, and a tremendous amount occurs once the lips touch.

“During a passionate kiss, our blood vessels dilate and receive more oxygen than normal to the brain. Our breathing becomes irregular and deepen; our cheeks flush, our pulse quickens, and our pupils dilate, which may be one reason so many of us closes our eyes.”

“Perhaps most important of all, when we kiss, all five of our senses are busy transmitting messages to the brain. Billions of little nerve connections are at work, firing away and distributing signals around our bodies. Eventually, these signals reach what is called the somatosensory cortex: the region of the brain that processes feelings of touch, temperature, pain, and more. Here they are interpreted, resulting in thought such as: ‘Did he just have onions?’ or ‘where is that hand wondering.'”

Ana was pretty taken with where his hands wandered and this kiss set the stage for the passion that would ensue. “A kiss is more than a kiss,” writes Judith Horstman in The Scientific American Book on Love, Sex, and the Brain. “It is an intimate exchange of scents, tastes, textures, secrets, and emotions. A touch of the lips triggers a cascade of neural messages and chemicals that transmit tactile sensations and sensual excitement, feelings of closeness, motivation, and even euphoria.”


Horstman, J. (2012). The Scientific American Book of Love, Sex, and the Brain (1st ed.). San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.

James, E. L. (2012). Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy. (1st ed.). New York, New York: Vintage.

Kirshenbaum, S. (2011). The Science of Kissing (1st ed.). New York, New York: Grand Central Publishing.

Artwork of the elevator scene by Ruffles and Restraints.

Article excerpted from: Attraction, Desire, and Falling in Love As Experienced by Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey In Fifty Shades of Grey by A. Charlotte Rose.

2 thoughts on “Why The Elevator Kiss In ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Is So Memorable

  1. The description of that scene ignites intense passion for sure. It took me by surprise as I felt he was all self-control and unyielding until she was fully aware of his intentions. Clearly, he was caught and from that point on, he knew that whatever he had to do to have her, he would do. The strange electric current she felt when they shook hands in his office was undeniable and the touch that would change their lives forever. There is nothing to compare to passion expressed in an intense, deep kiss. It’s probably one of the most powerful physical acts a human can experience and, as described in your article, engages us physically like nothing else. A kiss can be just a kiss, but when it’s powered by sheer physical animal attraction, it’s overpowering. I can’t imagine this scene not being one of the most anticipated and talked about scenes in the film. Although I was taken with the book after the first few paragraphs, EL James’ description of the “elevator kiss” made the book althogther impossible to put down. I knew from the get-go that this was going to be an intense love story. It just happens that it’s not your typical “vanilla” love story!

    Long live erotic romance!

    • It was so much fun reading about “THE” elevator scene, the first intimate connection that started the romance and consenting scenarios to follow. Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson do a great job interpreting that scene in the trailers…I’m confident the entire film adaptation will follow suit and be amazing. Gosh, there’s nothing like a really passionate kiss that makes your heart pound, knees buckle, and stops the world. E.L. James has Christian and Anna feeling like that just by being in close proximity of each other. It’s so much fun reading about their relationship and watching it change and mature in a positive and mutually understanding way.

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