The Pilgrim’s Progress

Topic: EducationStudent
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Last updated: April 14, 2019

The Pilgrim’s Progress was written in the 1600s and is probably the first novel in English language. Noted for its allegorical nature, admired for its lyrical beauty, loved for its adventure and thrill and followed widely for its theological philosophy- ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ is often described as the fictionalized version of John Bunyan’s autobiography ‘Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners’. It reflects the author’s own religious struggles and experiences. Because of its unique, close to life portrayals and extremely interesting character list, it is the most widely read classic.‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ talks of the journey of the main protagonist Christian, from the ‘City of Destruction’ to the ‘Celestial City’ of Zion. After reading a certain book, Christian is weighed down by a burden that makes this journey of spirituality mandatory for him, come what may. He is accompanied and met by many characters on the way like Obstinate, Pliable, Worldly Wiseman and many others but the most important are Faithful and Hopeful.

Faithful is Christian’s fellow traveler from the City of Destruction but at the Vanity Fair, he becomes a martyr and is replaced by Hopeful who then accompanies Christian to the Celestial City. Throughout the journey from the Vanity Fair to the Celestial City, Hopeful remains with Christian and is an ideal companion for Christian. Their relationship is close, fulfilling and worth a lot of research and study as it reveals certain theological ideas in all their splendor and simplicity.Biblically speaking, ‘faith’ and ‘hope’ have similar meanings. Faith stands for trust on God in the present context and ‘hope’ signifies a similar trust on God for all future endeavors. So, in the allegorical context of the novel, we find that when Faithful leaves Christian, Hopeful joins him and thus he is never alone, he never has misgivings nor does he ever doubt the purpose of the long and arduous journey that he is undertaking. Christian’s relationship with Hopeful is a lot closer than that with Faithful as Hopeful remains with him for  a longer period of time and does not leave him even when they are encountered by many difficulties such as the monster of Giant Despair. Thus, it is through Hopeful’s help, encouragement and constant company that Christian never looses sight of his goal, motive and purpose.

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Also, Hopeful gives useful advices and saves situation many times when Christian is down and almost out.Situations abound when Hopeful acts in an almost elder- brotherly fashion and saves Christian from giving up and returning from the journey unfinished. For example, when Christian and Hopeful are led astray due to over- confidence and complacency, and Christian attempts to correct his error by leading the way as a last minute rescue operation, Hopeful refuses to let him do so. (CHR: “No if you………out of the way.”; HOP: “No………..again” Pilgrim’s Progress, 1964, p105).

Hopeful understands that since Christian is overcome by guilt and eagerness to put things right, he is susceptible to making mistakes and misleading them again. He also forgives Christian easily for misleading them. Hopeful therefore knows about Christian’s inner psychology and helps him to overcome untoward circumstances with a calm and collected countenance. They disagree at many situations like above, but Hopeful causes good sense to prevail and saves them from being bogged down by silly mistakes and self pity. He does not let Christian cross the thin line between desperation and suicidal tendencies. Hopeful is bright, calm and always remains in sight or his goal and in tune with his common sense.

He is a thus a very precious companion for Christian without whom the journey would never have been successful.Later, at another point in the story, Christian is again weighed down by guilt, remorse, self pity and his feelings of guilt have reached alarming heights, so much so that he is contemplating suicide. Hopeful recognizes Christian’s suicidal tendencies in that situation and gives him courage and determination. Hopeful speaks to him of his prior conquests such as those over Apollyon, his victory in the Valley of the Shadow of Death and gives him heart.

Hopeful reminds Christian that he himself despite being a much weaker man than Christian is not loosing hope. Both of them are wounded, yet Hopeful is still hopeful of escaping from the jail and reaching their desired destination of the Celestial City. (HOP: “My Brother………….we can” The Pilgrim’s Progress, 1964, p108).Thus, in the remainder of Christian’s journey from Vanity Fair, Hopeful remains with him as a friend, philosopher and guide. They disagree on many accounts and have their dissimilarities.

Hopeful is always full of fresh hope while Christian is liable to be bogged down by despair. Hopeful is a lot more cheerful and never makes rash and hasty decisions whereas Christian is liable to make mistakes due to overconfidence and rashness and recklessness. But being the opposites that they are in nature, countenance and personalities, they are ideal companions for each other in the journey that have undertaken. 

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