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The Pilgrim's Progress
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan is a historic classic from the 17th century. The work is a symbolic vision of the good man’s pilgrimage through life. The Pilgrim’s Progress is the most famous Christian allegory; at one time second only to the Bible in popularity. It was first published in the reign of Charles II and was largely written while its Puritan author was imprisoned for offenses against the Conventicle Act of 1593 (which prohibited the conducting of religious services outside the bailiwick of the Church of England).

The book contains two main parts. The first part and more widely known was published in 1678 is about a man, who goes on pilgrimage to find the Celestial City. After he goes on pilgrimage, his name becomes Christian. The second, published in 1684, describes the journey of Christian's wife [Christiana] and his children from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City.

The book is told in allegorical style. Characters are symbolically named for their qualities of character such as Christian for a male Christian, Christiana for a female Christian, Evangelist, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Faithful, Mercy, Mr. Great-heart, Mr. Honest, etc. The author was being obvious about what kind of person each character represented.

I recommend you read The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan if you are researching the religious views of the 17th century in England or the Anglo-American colonists. Perhaps the greatest piece of English allegory I have ever read. Bunyan's use of biblical characters and doctrine combined with his use of symbolism and doctrinal reflections are ingeniously clever and literarily refreshing.

Part I 
Part I (1678) is presented as the author’s dream of the trials and adventures of Christian (an everyman figure) as he travels from his home, the City of Destruction, to the Celestial City. Christian seeks to rid himself of a terrible burden, the weight of his sins, that he feels after reading a book (ostensibly the Bible). Evangelist points him toward a wicket-gate, and he heads off, leaving his family behind. He falls into the Slough of Despond, dragged down by his burden, but is saved by a man named Help. Christian next meets Mr. Worldly Wiseman, who persuades him to disregard Evangelist’s advice and instead go to the village of Morality and seek out Mr. Legality or his son Civility. However, Christian’s burden becomes heavier, and he stops. Evangelist reappears and sets him back on the path to the wicket-gate. The gatekeeper, Good-will, lets him through and directs him to the house of the Interpreter, where he receives instruction on Christian grace. As Christian continues his journey, he comes upon a cross and a sepulcher, and at that point, his burden falls from his shoulders. Three Shining Ones appear and give him a sealed scroll that he must present when he reaches the Celestial Gate. Christian continues on his way, and when he reaches the Hill Difficulty, he chooses the straight and narrow path. Partway up he falls asleep in an arbor, allowing the scroll to fall from his hands. When he wakes, he proceeds to the top of the hill only to find he must return to the arbor to find his lost scroll. He later arrives at the palace Beautiful, where he meets the damsels' Discretion, Prudence, Piety, and Charity. They give Christian armor, and he learns that a former neighbor, Faithful is traveling ahead of him. Christian next traverses the Valley of Humiliation, where he does battle with the monster Apollyon. He then passes through the terrifying Valley of the Shadow of Death. Shortly afterward he catches up with Faithful. The two enter the town of Vanity, home of the ancient Vanity Fair, which is set up to ensnare pilgrims en route to the Celestial City. Their strange clothing and lack of interest in the fair’s merchandise cause a commotion, and they are arrested. Arraigned before Lord Hate-good, Faithful is condemned to death and executed, and he is immediately taken into the Celestial City. Christian is returned to prison, but he later escapes. Christian leaves Vanity, accompanied by Hopeful, who was inspired by Faithful. Christian and Hopeful cross the plain of Ease and resist the temptation of a silver mine. The path later becomes more difficult, and, at Christian’s encouragement, the two travelers take an easier route, through By-path Meadow. However, when they become lost and are caught in a storm, Christian realizes that he has led them astray. Trying to turn back, they stumble onto the grounds of Doubting Castle, where they are caught, imprisoned, and beaten by the Giant Despair. At last, Christian remembers that he has a key called Promise, which he and Hopeful use to unlock the doors and escape. They reach the Delectable Mountains, just outside the Celestial City, but make the mistake of following Flatterer and must be rescued by a Shining One. Before they can enter the Celestial City, they must cross a river as a test of faith, and then, after presenting their scrolls, Christian and Hopeful are admitted into the city.

Part II 
In Part II (1684) Christian’s wife, Christiana, and their sons as well as their neighbor Mercy attempt to join him in the Celestial City. The psychological intensity is relaxed in this section, and the capacity for humor and realistic observation becomes more evident. Christian’s family and Mercy—aided (physically and spiritually) by their guide Great-heart, who slays assorted giants and monsters along the way—have a somewhat easier time, because Christian has smoothed the way and even such companions as Mrs. Much-afraid and Mr. Ready-to-halt manage to complete the journey. Whereas most of the people encountered by Christian exemplify wrong thinking that will lead to damnation, Christiana meets people who, with help, become worthy of salvation. When they reach the Celestial City, Christiana’s sons and the wives they married along the way stay behind in order to help future pilgrims.

“What God says is best, is best, though all the men in the world are against it.”
― John Bunyan

“Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.”
― John Bunyan

“This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let's neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”
― John Bunyan

“a man there was, though some did count him mad, the more he cast away the more he had.”
― John Bunyan

“Dark clouds bring waters, when the bright bring none.”
― John Bunyan

“I have given Him my faith, and sworn my allegiance to Him; how, then, can I go back from this, and not be hanged as a traitor?”
― John Bunyan

“The man that takes up religion for the world will throw away religion for the world.”
― John Bunyan

“I seek a place that can never be destroyed, one that is pure, and that fadeth not away, and it is laid up in heaven, and safe there, to be given, at the time appointed, to them that seek it with all their heart. Read it so, if you will, in my book.”
― John Bunyan

“It is always hard to see the purpose in wilderness wanderings until after they are over.”
― John Bunyan

“For to speak the truth, there are but few that care thus to spend their time, but choose rather to be speaking of things to no profit.”
― John Bunyan

“Then said he, ’I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who now will be my rewarder.’.... So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.”
― John Bunyan