Medical Tuesday Blog
Pilgrims Progress comes to the Cinemas
This 1678 Christian allegory written by John Bunyan is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature. It has been translated into more than 200 languages and has never been out of print. It has also been cited as the first novel written in English. It is being shown in theaters during Easter Week.
Bunyan began his work while in the Bedfordshire county prison for violations of the Conventicle Act of 1664, which prohibited the holding of religious services outside of the auspices of the established Church of England. It was initially thought that he began writing this during his second, shorter imprisonment for six months in 1675, but more recent scholars believe that it was begun during Bunyan’s initial, more lengthy imprisonment from 1660 to 1672 right after he had written his spiritual autobiography Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.
The entire book is presented as a dream sequence narrated by an omniscient narrator. The allegory’s protagonist, Christian, is an every-man character, and the plot centers on his journey from his hometown, the “City of Destruction” (“this world”), to the “celestial City” (“that which is to come”: Heaven) atop of Mount Zion. Christian is weighed down by a great burden—the knowledge of his sin—which he believed came from his reading “the book in his hand” (the Bible). This burden, which would cause him to sink into Hell, is so unbearable that Christian must seek deliverance. He meets Evangelist as he is walking out in the fields, who directs him to the “Wicked Gate” for deliverance. Since Christian cannot see the “Wicket Gate” in the distance, Evangelist directs him to go to a “shining light,” which Christian thinks he sees.
Christian leaves his home, his wife, and children to save himself: he cannot persuade them to accompany him. Obstinate and Pliable go after Christian to bring him back, but Christian refuses. Obstinate returns disgusted, but Pliable is persuaded to go with Christian, hoping to take advantage of the Paradise that Christian claims lies at the end of his journey.
Pliable’s journey with Christian is cut short when the two of them fall into the Slough of Despond, a boggy mire-like swamp where pilgrims’ doubts, fears, temptations, lusts, shames, guilts, and sins of their present condition of being a sinner are used to sink them into the mud of the swamp. It is there in that bog where Pliable abandons Christian after getting himself out. After struggling to the other side of the slough, Christian is pulled out by Help, who has heard his cries and tells him the swamp is made out of the decadence, scum, and filth of sin, but the ground is good at the narrow Wicket Gate.
On his way to the Wicket Gate, Christian is diverted by the secular ethics of Mr. Worldly Wiseman into seeking deliverance from his burden through the Law, supposedly with the help of a Mr. Legality and his son Civility in the village of Morality, rather than through Christ, allegorically by way of the Wicket Gate. Evangelist meets the wayward Christian as he stops before Mount Sinai on the way to Mr. Legality’s home. It hangs over the road and threatens to crush any who would pass it; also the mountain flashed with fire. Evangelist shows Christian that he had sinned by turning out of his way and tells him that Mr. Legality and his son Civility are descendants of slaves and Mr. Worldly Wiseman is a false guide, but he assures him that he will be welcomed at the Wicket Gate if he should turn around and go there, which Christian does. . .
This book summary is found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pilgrim%27s_Progress#Plot_summary
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