This following paper is a literature review of the book “The Pilgrim’s Progress” written by John Bunyan, a notable work of fiction and theology for the novelty that it brought into the treatment of elevated subjects like pilgrimage and salvation. …
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The Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory. An allegory is a work of literature that has symbols for various abstract elements. For instance, the character Christian is supposed to be a symbol for every person who is on the path to salvation and believes in Christ as his or her savior. All the other character and events in the book are symbols for elements of Christian theology. Other characters who guide Christian on his perilous journey are also symbols for the elements that a Christian would need during his quest for salvation. There are certain characters that also represent the obstacles that arise during the believer’s quest. For instance, the characters Obstinate and Pliable are symbols for certain kinds of people who are unable to understand the teachings of the Bible, according to Bunyan. Bunyan means Obstinate to be a reference to people who refuse to lend their ears to the teachings of the bible and Christ in a stubborn manner. Their hearts are hardened and they are an obvious reference to the pharaoh of Egypt who refused to listen to the word of god through Moses. Pliable, on the other hand, is a character who is able to mould himself for any situation but is unable to stand the hardships that Christian is able to and thus, he is unable to bear the journey. The entire story progresses in a similar Christian vein where the worldview is exclusively Christian. The story is that of the recognition of the burden that man has to carry as a result of the original sin that was committed by the first man, Adam. Adam’s disobedience to the Christian God resulted in his being cast out of the Garden of Eden and this resulted in the introduction of death and labor in the world of man. To attain communion with God after a lifetime of misery on earth, one had to believe in Christ, according to Bunyan. The protagonist of his story has the burden of the original sin to carry which is loosened only when he reaches the “place of deliverance” that is again an obvious symbol, and stands for the open tomb of Christ that represents the resurrection and hope for humanity. The death of Christ is thus, for Bunyan, the event that holds out hope for humanity that sinned against God. The debt of sin that Christ paid for with his own blood is what Bunyan pins his hopes on and according to the Bible, this is what every Christian ought to place his belief in. The road to the Celestial City is one that needs to be crossed through the wicket gate, which is a symbol for the fence of the flock of the Christians. This again points to traditional theological symbols which show Christ to be a shepherd and the group of Christians to be his flock. The road that leads from the wicket gate is a narrow one and one that Christian is led to by several characters who are at a certain level, theological and at another political.
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