Ryan Milbrath's Reviews > The Pilgrim's Progress

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
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Aug 09, 11

John Bunyan, an English writer of the Protestant tradition, has long been associated with his masterpiece “A Pilgrims Progress.” Technically speaking, Bunyan was a reformed Baptist, not a Puritan; however, his work has become analogous with the movement of Puritans to the New World after suffering persecution at the hands of the Anglican Church. Bunyan enjoyed the privileges of the Puritan Commonwealth, such as free speech and worship. During this time, he had written several of his treatises on religion. Upon the restoration of the monarchy, Bunyan, like his Puritan brethren, found themselves significantly persecuted by the powers that be. It is during his numerous stints in prison for preaching that Bunyan wrote “A Pilgrim’s Progress.”

“A Pilgrim’s Progress” is broken up into two parts. Both parts are written as allegory for a person’s journey from secular heathenism and self-destruction towards spiritual (Christian) enlightenment. The first part deals exclusively with one man’s (Christian’s) journey from the “City of Destruction” to the “Celestial City.” In short, Christian abandon’s his wife and children to encounter characters such as giants, and creatures that stand as representations of sin and obstacles meant to derail our hero. Despite these challenges, our hero arrives at his salvation through faith and faith alone. The second part of the novel follows Christian’s wife and children as they make the same pilgrimage as Christian. They encounter numerous friends and new obstacles in their journey towards the celestial city. They too, like Christian, find their salvation through faith alone.

“A Pilgrim’s Progress” stands in sharp contrast to the dry and humorless literature usually written in the protestant tradition. The challenges, humor, drama, etc are still boring or cliché by today’s standards, but for it’s time it’s probably the most exciting thing to come out of the protestant tradition. However, in my personal opinion, part two could have been cut out entirely, given that most of the challenges faced by Christian’s wife were the same as they were faced by Christian. Bunyan only seems willing to write this second part for his audience and to hammer home his message of faith based salvation. In the end it’s a plodding read for those not into 17th century puritan writing. For those who are though…it’s a treat.


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