I read considerable in it now and then. The statements was interesting, but tough. The story of a man in search of the truth is the plot of many kinds of fiction, from Portnoy's Complaint to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Like many of the writers in the list that follows, Bunyan had a wonderful ear for the rhythms of colloquial speech and his allegorical characters come to life in dialogue that never fails to advance the narrative.
Story is one thing. The simple clarity and beauty of Bunyan's prose is something else. Braided together, style and content unite to make a timeless English classic. The Pilgrim's Progress, from this world, to that which is to come was first published in Holborn, London by Nathaniel Ponder, a non-conformist, at the beginning of in an edition of pages. It was an immediate success. A second edition appeared before the end of , with many new passages, a third in , and several subsequent editions before Bunyan's death in August Eventually, the English text comprised some , words.
It has never been out of print, and has been translated into more than languages. Sagacity explains Christiana's conversion in more detail, telling Bunyan how after Christian left, his wife was properly devastated. She recalls his suffering and agony resulting from the burden he could not shed.
She begins to experience a change of heart. Those feelings are bolstered by a dream that she has, in which she sees her life laid out on a parchment and realizes the gravity of her sins. She awakes, but soon falls back to sleep. Asleep, she has another dream, in which she sees her husband in heaven. When she wakes in the morning, a visitor from heaven, named Secret , comes to the door. He calls her to the pilgrimage, telling her that the Lord wishes to welcome him at his table. He delivers her letter of election and bids her leave the City of Destruction with the boys.
She shares the news with her sons, who burst into tears of joy. As Christiana begins to prepare for the voyage, her neighbors, Mrs. Timorous and Mrs.
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Mercy , stop by and try to deter her from her purpose, citing Pliable and Obstinate , who tried to follow Christian and were forced to turn back. Christiana refuses to listen and sends the women off. However, Mrs. Mercy is touched by Christiana's faith and decides that she wants to join the family on their pilgrimage, feeling such a yearning within herself. Meanwhile, Mrs. Timorous shares the gossip with some of her other neighbors, and all together they criticize her reckless choice and talk about their own sinful enjoyments.
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Mercy, Christiana, and her children set off on the journey. Mercy agrees to be Christiana's servant, in hopes that she, too will receive encouragement at the Wicket Gate. The party soon arrives at the Slough of Despond. With their faith bolstering their courage, they get through it fine.
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After that, Mr. Sagacity completes his narration and we are once again inside Bunyan's dream just in time to see Christiana's group come to the Wicket Gate. Christiana, because she is the eldest, goes to knock at the door, but no one answers. Eventually, a dog comes and scares the group of pilgrims, but they keep knocking, and eventually the gatekeeper admits Christiana and the boys through the gate.
Mercy is left outside, but Christiana immediately begins intercessing on her behalf. Mercy is so overcome with fear that she faints. She explains that she is worried that because her call to conversion and pilgrimage did not come directly from God, she will ultimately be denied access. However, there is enough grace to go around, and the gatekeeper admits the frantic Mercy.
The Angel punishes them for following the Flatterer and then puts them back on the right path.
The pilgrims meet an Atheist, who tells them Heaven and God do not exist, but Christian and Hopeful remember the shepherds and pay no attention to the man. Christian and Hopeful come to a place where a man named Wanton Professor is chained by the ropes of seven demons who take him to a shortcut to the Lake of Fire Hell. On the way, Christian and Hopeful meet a lad named Ignorance, who believes that he will be allowed into the Celestial City through his own good deeds rather than as a gift of God's grace.
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Christian and Hopeful meet up with him twice and try to persuade him to journey to the Celestial City in the right way. Ignorance persists in his own way that he thinks will lead him into Heaven. After getting over the River of Death on the ferry boat of Vain Hope without overcoming the hazards of wading across it, Ignorance appears before the gates of Celestial City without a passport, which he would have acquired had he gone into the King's Highway through the Wicket Gate.
The Lord of the Celestial City orders the shining ones angels to take Ignorance to one of the byways of Hell and throw him in. Christian and Hopeful make it through the dangerous Enchanted Ground a place where the air makes them sleepy and if they fall asleep, they never wake up into the Land of Beulah, where they ready themselves to cross the dreaded River of Death on foot to Mount Zion and the Celestial City.
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Christian has a rough time of it because of his past sins wearing him down, but Hopeful helps him over, and they are welcomed into the Celestial City. They visit the same stopping places that Christian visited, with the addition of Gaius' Inn between the Valley of the Shadow of Death and Vanity Fair, but they take a longer time in order to accommodate marriage and childbirth for the four sons and their wives. The hero of the story is Greatheart, a servant of the Interpreter, who is the pilgrims' guide to the Celestial City.
The passage of years in this second pilgrimage better allegorizes the journey of the Christian life. By using heroines , Bunyan, in the Second Part, illustrates the idea that women, as well as men, can be brave pilgrims. Alexander M. Witherspoon, professor of English at Yale University , writes in a prefatory essay :. Part II, which appeared in , is much more than a mere sequel to or repetition of the earlier volume. It clarifies and reinforces and justifies the story of Part I. The beam of Bunyan's spotlight is broadened to include Christian's family and other men, women, and children; the incidents and accidents of everyday life are more numerous, the joys of the pilgrimage tend to outweigh the hardships; and to the faith and hope of Part I is added in abundant measure that greatest of virtues, charity.
The two parts of The Pilgrim's Progress , in reality, constitute a whole, and the whole is, without doubt, the most influential religious book ever written in the English language. This is exemplified by the frailness of the pilgrims of the Second Part—women, children, and physically and mentally challenged individuals—in contrast to the stronger pilgrims of the First Part.
When Christiana's party leaves Gaius's Inn and Mr. Feeble-Mind lingers in order to be left behind, he is encouraged to accompany the party by Greatheart:. But brother I have it in commission, to comfort the feeble-minded, and to support the weak. You must needs go along with us; we will wait for you, we will lend you our help, we will deny ourselves of some things, both opinionated and practical, for your sake; we will not enter into doubtful disputations before you, we will be made all things to you, rather than you shall be left behind.
The pilgrims learn of Madame Bubble who created the Enchanted Ground and Forgetful Green, a place in the Valley of Humiliation where the flowers make other pilgrims forget about God's love. Feeble-Mind, and Mr. Ready-To-Halt come to Bypath-Meadow and, after much fight and difficulty, slay the cruel Giant Despair and the wicked Giantess Diffidence, and demolish Doubting Castle for Christian and Hopeful who were oppressed there.
They free a pale man named Mr. Despondency and his daughter named Much-Afraid from the castle's dungeons. When the pilgrims end up in the Land of Beulah, they cross over the River of Death by appointment. As a matter of importance to Christians of Bunyan's persuasion reflected in the narrative of The Pilgrim's Progress , the last words of the pilgrims as they cross over the River of Death are recorded. The four sons of Christian and their families do not cross but remain for the support of the church in that place.
Scholars have pointed out that Bunyan may have been influenced in the creation of places in The Pilgrim's Progress by his own surrounding environment. Albert Foster  describes the natural features of Bedfordshire that apparently turn up in The Pilgrim's Progress. Vera Brittain in her thoroughly researched biography of Bunyan,  identifies seven locations that appear in the allegory.
Other connections are suggested in books not directly associated with either John Bunyan or The Pilgrim's Progress. At least twenty-one natural or man-made geographical or topographical features from The Pilgrim's Progress have been identified—places and structures John Bunyan regularly would have seen as a child and, later, in his travels on foot or horseback. The entire journey from The City of Destruction to the Celestial City may have been based on Bunyan's own usual journey from Bedford , on the main road that runs less than a mile behind his cottage in Elstow , through Ampthill , Dunstable and St Albans , to London.
In the same sequence as these subjects appear in The Pilgrim's Progress , the geographical realities are as follows:.
The allegory of this book has antecedents in a large number of Christian devotional works that speak of the soul's path to Heaven , from the Lyke-Wake Dirge forward. Bunyan's allegory stands out above his predecessors because of his simple and effective prose style, steeped in Biblical texts and cadences. Bunyan's inspiration? Due to many similarities—some more definite than others—it could be argued that he had access to Dante's Commedia.