English 233:  Introduction to Western Humanities -- Baroque & Enlightenment

Study Guide to John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress

Reading Four

Consider printing a copy of this SG and taking your notes directly upon it.

Reading Four:  Continue with your reading of Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, from Christian's journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death up through Faithful's dialogue with Talkative (pp.52 -70). 

Questions to pursue

(1) What does Christian run into just as he gets to the borders of it the Valley of the Shadow of Death?

How does the marginal note (Bunyan's) identify these people?

[Drawing connections:  What does their report have to do with what Evangelist has told Christian about what was wrong with Mr. Worldly-Wiseman's counsel?]


(2) What is on either side of the path that leads through this valley?  [Drawing connections:  What are we to appreciate as the meaning of this piece of geography?]


(3) What weapon does Christian have to rely on in order to protect himself from the "company of Fiends" that comes forward to meet him?

(4) What confusion does Christian fall into as he passes a certain point?  [Drawing connections:  what do you think Bunyan is getting at here?]


(5) Some time later (as it develops, just before day dawns) Christian hears something else, this time consoling.  What is this?

(6) When day comes, Christian looks both back over the territory he has covered so far in the Valley of the Shadow of Death and the part he has yet to traverse.  What has been the effect of the latter on many who have come so far? 

[Drawing connections:  What does the quotation from the Book of Job (29.3) that Christian quotes to himself at this point suggest is Bunyan's way of accounting for why this has been their fate, but is not going to be the fate of our protagonist?]


(7) The Dreamer/Narrator tells us something else he sees, at the end of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, that accounts for the fate of many former pilgrims.  What are these?

What is their present condition, and what is Bunyan using this to say?


[Drawing connections:  How would the Catholic interpretation of Job 29.3 evidently differ from that of Puritans like Bunyan?]

What does our editor (in the notes, pp. 271-2) suggest is the allusion Bunyan is making by having the Old Man in the Cave say what he does as Christian passes him by?

(8) Christian comes to "a little ascent, which was cast up on purpose" -- to what purpose? 

[Drawing connections:  Is there anything that happens in the course of Christian's pilgrimage, and in the course of the travels of other pilgrims, and in the lives of those who refuse to undertake the pilgrimage, that is not "on purpose"?  What is the significance of this fact?]

What does Christian see when he looks from this vantage point?

(9a) What is the significance of Faithful's refusal to wait for Christian to catch up with him? 

(9b) What is the significance of Christian's behavior when, by a special effort, he does catch up (and more)?

(11) Do Christian and Faithful come from different origins, or the same?  [Drawing connections:  What are we to make of this?

(12) What do we learn of what has happened to Pliable?

[Drawing connections:  What do you think Bunyan is implying here?  Does it strike you as altogether convincing?]

(13) Faithful next proceeds to acquaint Christian with his own history as a pilgrim.  Faithful's experience turns out not to be just a duplication of that of Christian.  That of course would be boring and pointless.  Why, then, do you think Bunyan included this figure in his overall narrative?  [Drawing connections:  When you have finished reading Faithful's account of what he has encountered along his way, try so summarize the basic differences between these two serious individuals:  can we see them as different types of human beings, who might have different kinds of strengths and weaknesses, and therefore have to struggle with different types of temptations?  Or is Bunyan trying to point out how the same basic temptations can present themselves in different guises?  Sketch some notes for your initial thinking on these issues in the following space.]




(14) Who is the Old Man Faithful encountered when he took on the Hill of Difficulty? 

How does this express itself in that figure's behavior?

Is Faithful inclined to listen to this figure?  (How, or why not?)

How does Faithful get free of him?

(15) What happens to Faithful when he reaches "the place where the Settle stands" (which Christian recognizes as the Arbor where he lost his Roll)?

[Drawing connections:  Do you see any connection here with what Evangelist pointed out was fallacious in Mr. Worldly-Wiseman's advice to Christian about how to get rid of his burden?]

How does Faithful get free of him?  [Drawing connections:  What does this remind us of in Christian's experiences so far?]

(17) What was Faithful's experience with the Palace Beautiful?

(18) Faithful come across two different figures in the Valley of Humility.  Who was each, and how did he deal with them?  [Drawing connections:  Do you see how these are connected with each other?]



(19) The two pilgrims come across a third, Talkative.  [Drawing connections:  What is the significance of the fact that when Faithful first sees this Talkative that latter is "at one side...walking at a distance besides them"?  And what is it about his appearance that proves to be a foreshadowing?]

(21) What are some of the things that Talkative says that Bunyan would agree are sound points of Puritan Protestant doctrine, and that account for Faithful's initial response to him (which is what)?


(22) What does Christian reveal about Talkative that puts him in a different light?


(23) What means does Christian propose to Faithful to induce Talkative to part company with them of his own volition?

(24) What is the first question that Faithful proposes to Talkative?

What answer does Talkative give?  How is this revealing of what Christian has said about him?


What response does Faithful propose to his own question?  And what is Talkative's reaction to this?

(25) What is the second question that Faithful proposes to Talkative?

What answer does Talkative give?  How is this revealing of what Christian has said about him?


What response does Faithful propose to his own question?  And what is Talkative's reaction to this?


(26) This episode (the encounter with Talkative) clarifies Bunyan's position on one of the key issues that divided Catholics (and the "High Church" faction -- sometimes known as "Anglo-Catholics" -- of the Church of England) from the strict Protestants:  the relationship between Faith and Works.  Drawing connections:  You may not be able immediately on your own to formulate good answers to the following two questions, but eventually we will want to address them in class.  Here they are now so you can begin thinking about them.  (There's nothing to prevent you from taking a stab at them on your own, now, however!)

What does Bunyan insist on that distinguishes his brand of Puritanism from the Catholic position?


What does he insist on that distinguishes his Puritanism from Antinomian Protestantism?  (Where is Talkative way off track?  What does Bunyan seem -- up to a point -- to agree with the Catholics upon?)