Literature: The Pilgrim's Progress
The Pilgrim's Progress
(full title: The Pilgrim's Progress From This World, To That Which Is to Come: Delivered under the Similtude of a Dream, Wherein is Discovered, the manner of his setting out, His Dangerous Journey, and safe arrival at the Desired Country
) is an allegorical work by John Bunyan, first published in 1678. It was written during Bunyan's terms in prison for holding worship services outside the auspices of the official Church of England.
The story is in two parts (originally published separately) and concerns the journey of an everyman named Christian (and, later, his wife and family in the second part) from the City of Destruction (this world) to the Celestial City (the world which is to come, Heaven). The journey is fraught with dangers, and there are many temptations to leave the straight and narrow road. Christian meets good friends and deadly enemies on the path. Though he makes mistakes along the way that nearly result in his destruction, Christian is forgiven when he returns to the true road, and eventually is allowed to enter the Celestial City.
At one time, this book was nearly ubiquitous in the houses of British and American Protestants. Many nineteenth-century literary works refer to it, including Little Women
. It provides the origin for the term "muckraker" for a certain type of journalism and supplied William Makepeace Thackeray with the title for his novel Vanity Fair
. C. S. Lewis
also put his own spin on it with his allegorical novel The Pilgrim's Regress.
The Pilgrim's Progress contains examples of the following tropes:
- All Just a Dream: Subverted: for once, All Just a Dream doesn't need spoiler tags. We are told it's a dream in the very title, we are told in the first sentence, we are reminded it's a dream throughout the story, and the last sentence is "And so I awoke, and behold, it was a dream."
- An Aesop: By the zillion. Also, the entire point of the work.
- Arcadia: The Delectable Mountains, Beulah Land.
- Author Tract: And a big one.
- Babies Ever After: Christian's children all get married and have babies by the end of the story's second part.
- Beware Of Vicious Dog: The dog owned by the Innkeeper's next-door neighbor in the second part.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Some of the Names to Run Away From Really Fast indicate this.
- Composite Character: In the original book, the only time John Bunyan actually interacts with the cast is when he asks about the Slough. In the Animated Adaptation from the 70s, Bunyan doesn't appear in the story at all and Christian fulfills the role of inquiring about it.
- Despair Event Horizon: The point of Giant Despair's dungeon. Luckily, it doesn't always work.
- Defector from Decadence: Hopeful, with more implied to come.
- Easy Road to Hell
- The Everyman: Christian.
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: City of Destruction, Slough of Despond, River of Death... like with the characters, the place names aren't exactly subtle.
- Hanging Judge: Lord Hategood.
- Heel-Face Turn: Hopeful, a former resident of the sinister Vanity Fair, became what his name implies after witnessing Christian and Faithful enduring their torments with patience, and later goes with Christian after Faithful's death.
- Joker Jury: When Christian and Faithful are put on trial in Vanity Fair.
"Then went the jury out, whose names were
Mr. Blindman, Mr. No-good, Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady, Mr. High-mind, Mr. Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light, and Mr. Implacable..."
- Jumped at the Call: Christian seems all too eager to get rid of his bags any way that he can. Subverted when Pliable tries to follow him, and gives up the second they begin to run into trouble.
- Kill It with Fire: Faithful's death.
- Knight Templar: Moses. (Yes, that Moses.)
- Meaningful Name: Everyone, with the few exceptions of Biblical figures (e.g. Moses, Christ, Enoch, and Elijah).
- Long Title
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: E.g. Lord Hategood, Giant Despair, etc.
- Names to Trust Immediately: E.g. Help, Evangelist, The Interpreter
- The Obi-Wan: Evangelist.
- Rasputinian Death: Faithful must have been Made of Iron, considering his execution.
...first they scourged him, then they buffeted him, then they lanced his flesh with knives; after that, they stoned him with stones, then pricked him with their swords; and last of all, they burned him to ashes at the stake. Thus came Faithful to his end.
- Refusal of the Call: Christian's wife needs more convincing to set out from Destruction, apparently.
- Stay on the Path: You'd think the characters would figure this out after the first few horrible events directly resulted from wandering away, but no...
- The author would probably say that you would think people would figure that out in Real Life but they don't and that is the point.
- Take That: A couple at the Catholic Church. There's also some jabs at the notion of government-approved religion (i.e., the Church of England) but these are a bit more subtle.
- Textile Work Is Feminine: Mercy's sewing is very attractive, until the wooer realizes she's doing it for the poor.
- Took a Level in Badass: Christian goes from a weary traveler that almost drowns in a shallow bog, to a Badass that defeated a demon lord single-handedly.
- Town with a Dark Secret: A number of such towns.
- Viewers Are Morons: The character names can come off this way. You meetin' a character named Envy or Help? You gettin' an Aesop about envy or help.
- World of Symbolism: Justified by an All Just a Dream opening.
- Writer on Board: It's an allegory; what did you expect?
- Yellow Brick Road: Stick to the straight and narrow. That easier thing is not easier.