“The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come” is a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan and published in February 1678. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of English literature, has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been out of print.
Watch Parts 1 to 8
The Pilgrim’s Progress- Part 1
The Pilgrim’s Progress- Part 2
The Pilgrim’s Progress- Part 3
The Pilgrim’s Progress- Part 4
The Pilgrim’s Progress- Part 5
The Pilgrim’s Progress- Part 6
The Pilgrim’s Progress- Part 7
The Pilgrim’s Progress- Part 8
(Note: This review/summary is from Wikipedia)
Plot (First Part)
Christian, an everyman character, is the protagonist of the allegory, which centres itself in his journey from his hometown, the “City of Destruction” (“this world”), to the "Celestial City" (“that which is to come”: Heaven) atop Mt. Zion. Christian finds himself weighed down by a great burden, the knowledge of his sin, which he believed came from his reading “the book in his hand,” (the Bible). This burden, which would cause him to sink into Tophet (hell), is Christian’s acute, immediate concern that impels him to the crisis of what to do for deliverance. Evangelist meets Christian as he is walking out in the fields and directs him to the “Wicket Gate” for deliverance. Since Christian cannot see the “Wicket Gate” in the distance, Evangelist directs him to go to a “shining light,” which Christian thinks he sees. Christian leaves his home, his wife, and children to save himself when his attempt to persuade them to go with him fails. Two men of Destruction City, Obstinate and Pliable, follow Christian to persuade him to return and are unsuccessful. Pliable then decides to accompany Christian on the path, until the two land in the Slough Of Despond—whereupon Pliable extricates himself and goes back to the City; Christian is rescued from the slough by Help, who throws him a rope.
On his way to the Wicket Gate, Christian is diverted by Mr. Worldly Wiseman into seeking deliverance from his burden through the Law, supposedly with the help of a Mr. Legality and his son Civility in the village of Morality, rather than through Christ, allegorically by way of the Wicket Gate. Evangelist meets the wayward Christian where he has stopped before a life-threatening mountain, Mount Sinai, on the way to Legality’s home. Evangelist shows Christian that he had sinned by turning out of his way, but he assures him that he will be welcomed at the Wicket Gate if he should turn around and go there, which Christian does.
At the Wicket Gate begins the “straight and narrow” King’s Highway, and Christian is directed onto it by the gatekeeper Good Will. In the Second Part, Good-will is shown to be Jesus himself. To Christian's query about relief from his burden, Good Will directs him forward to “the place of deliverance.”
Christian makes his way from there to the House of the Interpreter, where he is shown pictures and tableaux that portray or dramatize aspects of the Christian faith and life. Roger Sharrock denotes them “emblems.”
From the House of the Interpreter, Christian finally reaches the “place of deliverance” (allegorically, the cross of Calvary and the open sepulchre of Christ), where the “straps” that bound Christian’s burden to him break, and it rolls away into the open sepulchre. This event happens relatively early in the narrative: the immediate need of Christian at the beginning of the story being quickly remedied. After Christian is relieved of his burden, he is greeted by three shining ones, who give him the greeting of peace, new garments, and a scroll as a passport into the Celestial City — these are allegorical figures indicative of Christian Baptism.
Atop the Hill of Difficulty, Christian makes his first stop for the night at the House Beautiful, which is an allegory of the local Christian congregation. Christian spends three days here, and leaves clothed with armour (Eph. 6:11-18), which stands him in good stead in his battle against Apollyon in the Valley of Humiliation. This battle lasts “over half a day” until Christian manages to wound Apollyon with his two-edged sword (a reference to the Bible, Heb. 4:12). “And with that Apollyon spread his dragon wings and sped away.”
As night falls Christian enters the Valley of the Shadow of Death. When he is in the middle of the valley amidst the gloom and terror he hears the words of the Twenty-third Psalm, spoken possibly by his friend Faithful:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4.)
As he leaves this valley the sun rises on a new day.
Just outside the Valley of the Shadow of Death he meets Faithful, also a former resident of the City of Destruction, who accompanies him to Vanity Fair, where both are arrested and detained because of their disdain for the wares and business of the fair. Faithful is put on trial, and executed as a martyr. Hopeful, a resident of Vanity, takes Faithful’s place to be Christian’s companion for the rest of the way.
Along a rough stretch of road, Christian and Hopeful leave the highway to travel on the easier By-Path Meadow, where a rainstorm forces them to spend the night. In the morning they are captured by Giant Despair, who takes them to his Doubting Castle, where they are imprisoned, beaten and starved. The giant wants them to commit suicide, but they endure the ordeal until Christian realizes that a key he has, called Promise, will open all the doors and gates of Doubting Castle. Using the key, they escape.
The Delectable Mountains form the next stage of Christian and Hopeful’s journey, where the shepherds show them some of the wonders of the place also known as “Immanuel’s Land”.
On the way, Christian and Hopeful meet a lad named Ignorance, who has the vain hope of entering the Celestial City even though he believes in work’s righteousness. A ferryman named Vain Hope ferries Ignorance across the River of Death, only for Ignorance to be turned away from the gates of Celestial City and cast into hell.
Christian and Hopeful make it through the dangerous Enchanted Ground into the Land of Beulah, where they ready themselves to cross the River of Death on foot to Mount Zion and the Celestial City. Christian has a rough time of it, but Hopeful helps him over; and they are welcomed into the Celestial City.
Characters (First Part)
Note: Names of main characters are in capital letters.
• CHRISTIAN, whose name was Graceless at some time before, the protagonist in the First Part, whose journey to the Celestial City is the plot of the story.
• EVANGELIST, the religious man who puts Christian on the path to the Celestial City. He also shows Christian a book, which readers assume to be the Bible.
• Obstinate, one of the two residents of the City of Destruction, who run after Christian when he first sets out, in order to bring him back.
• Pliable, the other of the two, who goes with Christian until both of them fall into the Slough of Despond. Pliable escapes from the slough and returns home.
• Help, Christian’s rescuer from the Slough of Despond.
• MR. WORLDLY WISEMAN, a resident of a place called Carnal Policy, who persuades Christian go out of his way to be helped by a Mr. Legality and then move to the City of Morality.
• GOODWILL, the keeper of the Wicket Gate through which one enters the “straight and narrow way” (also referred to as “the King's Highway”) to the Celestial City. In the Second Part we find that this character is none other than Jesus Christ Himself.
• Beelzebub, literally “Lord of the Flies”, is one of the devil’s companion archdevils who has erected a fort near the Wicket Gate from which he and his companions can shoot arrows at those who are about to enter the Wicket Gate. He is also the Lord of Vanity Fair. Christian calls him “captain” of the fiend Apollyon.
• THE INTERPRETER, the one who has his House along the way as a rest stop for travellers to check in to see pictures and dioramas to teach them the right way to live the Christian life. He has been identified as the Holy Spirit. He also appears in the Second Part.
• Shining Ones, the messengers and servants of “the Lord of the Hill”, God. They are obviously the holy angels.
• Formalist, one of two travellers on the King’s Highway, who do not come in by the Wicket Gate, but climb over the wall that encloses it, at least from the hill and sepulcre up to the Hill Difficulty. He and his companion Hypocrisy come from the land of Vainglory. He takes one of the two bypaths that avoid the Hill Difficulty, but is lost.
• Hypocrisy, the companion of Formalist. He takes the other of the two bypaths and is also lost.
• Timorous, one of two who try to persuade Christian to go back for fear of the chained lions near the House Beautiful. He is a relative of Mrs. Timorous of the Second Part. His companion is
• Watchful, the porter of the House Beautiful. He also appears in the Second Part and receives “a gold angel” coin from Christiana for his kindness and service to her and her companions. “Watchful” is also the name of one of the Delectable Mountains’ shepherds.
• Discretion, one of the maids of the House Beautiful, who decides to allow Christian to stay there.
• Prudence, another of the House Beautiful maidens. She appears in the Second Part.
• Piety, another of the House Beautiful maidens. She appears in the Second Part.
• Charity, another of the House Beautiful maidens. She appears in the Second Part.
• APOLLYON, literally “Destroyer”; the lord of the City of Destruction and one of the devil’s companion archdevils, who tries to force Christian to return to his domain and service. His battle with Christian takes place in the Valley of Humiliation, just below the House Beautiful. He appears as a dragon-like creature with scales and bats’ wings. He takes darts from his body to throw at his opponents.
• Giants “Pope” and “Pagan”, allegories of Roman Catholicism and paganism as persecutors of Protestant Christians. “Pagan” is dead, indicating the end of pagan persecution with Antiquity, and “Pope” is alive but decrepit, indicating the then diminished power and influence of the Roman Catholic pope.
• FAITHFUL, Christian’s friend from the City of Destruction, who is also going on pilgrimage. Christian meets him just after getting through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
• Wanton, a temptress who tries to get Faithful to leave his journey to the Celestial City. She may be the popular resident of the City of Destruction, Madam Wanton, who hosted a house party for friends of Mrs. Timorous.
• Adam the First, “the old man” (representing carnality) who tries to persuade Faithful to leave his journey and come live with his 3 daughters: the Lust of the flesh, the Lust of the eyes, and the Pride of life.
• Moses, the severe, violent avenger (representing the Law, which knows no mercy) who tries to kill Faithful for his momentary weakness in wanting to go with Adam the First out of the way.
• Talkative, a hypocrite known to Christian from the City of Destruction, who lived on Prating Row. He talks fervently of religion, but has no evident works as a result of true salvation.
• Lord Hate-good, the judge who tries Faithful in Vanity Fair.
• Envy, the first witness against Faithful.
• Superstition, the second witness against Faithful.
• Pick-Thank, the third witness against Faithful.
• HOPEFUL, the resident of Vanity Fair, who takes Faithful’s place as Christian’s fellow traveller. The character HOPEFUL poses an inconsistency in that there is a necessity imposed on the pilgrims that they enter the “King’s Highway” by the Wicket Gate. HOPEFUL did not; however, of him we read: “... one died to bear testimony to the truth, and another rises out of his ashes to be a companion with Christian in his pilgrimage”. HOPEFUL assumes FAITHFUL’S place by God’s design. Theologically and allegorically it would follow in that “faith” is trust in God as far as things present are concerned, and “hope”, biblically the same as “faith”, is trust in God as far as things of the future are concerned. HOPEFUL would follow FAITHFUL. The other factor is Vanity Fair's location right on the straight and narrow way. IGNORANCE, in contrast to HOPEFUL, came from the Country of Conceit, that connected to the “King's Highway” by means of a crooked lane. IGNORANCE was told by CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL that he should have entered the highway through the Wicket Gate.
• Mr. By-Ends, a hypocritical pilgrim who perishes in the Hill Lucre silver mine with three of his friends. A “by-end” is a pursuit that is achieved indirectly. In the case of By-Ends and his companions, it is pursuing financial gain through religion.
• Demas, a deceiver, who beckons to pilgrims at the Hill Lucre to come and join in the supposed silver mining going on in it.
• GIANT DESPAIR, the owner of Doubting Castle, where Christians are imprisoned and murdered. He is slain by GREAT-HEART in the Second Part.
• Giantess Diffidence, Despair's wife. She is slain by OLD HONEST in the Second Part.
• Knowledge, one of the shepherds of the Delectable Mountains.
• Experience, another of the Delectable Mountains shepherds.
• Watchful, another of the Delectable Mountains shepherds.
• Sincere, another of the Delectable Mountains shepherds.
• IGNORANCE, “a brisk young lad”, who joins the “King's Highway” by way of the “crooked lane” that comes from his native country, called “Conceit.” He follows Christian and Hopeful and on two occasions talks with them. He believes that he will be received into the Celestial City because of his doing good works in accordance with God's will. Jesus Christ is for him only an example not a Savior. Christian and Hopeful try to set him right, but they fail. He gets a ferryman, Vain-Hope, to ferry him across the River of Death rather than cross it on foot as one is supposed to do. When he gets to the gates of the Celestial City, he is asked for a “certificate” needed for entry, which he does not have. The King, then, orders that he be bound and cast into hell.
• The Flatterer, a deceiver who leads Christian and Hopeful out of their way, when they fail to look at the roadmap given them by the Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains.
• Atheist, a mocker of CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL, who goes the opposite way on the “King’s Highway” because he boasts that he knows that God and the Celestial City do not exist.