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A Marxist Literaray Criticism on the Pilgrim's Progress

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Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan is a novel about two pilgrimages set in a fictional realm revolving around Christianity. This book is split into two parts, each portraying one pilgrimage. The first part is about Christian, the protagonist, who realizes that he and his city are condemned to hell. He receives guidance from Evangelist, an angel, and decides to seek salvation by embarking on a pilgrimage to the Celestial City, heaven. Christian attempts to persuade his family and townsfolk to follow him to the Celestial City but fails. Christian encounters many obstacles where he is tempted to stray from his path of salvation. However, he stays zealous and eventually arrives at the Celestial City. The second part of the novel focuses on Christian's wife, Christiana. She regrets her disbelief in her husband and embarks on pilgrimage with her three children. Similar to her Christian, Christiana is faced with obstacles but arrives at the Celestial City as well. Throughout each pilgrimage, various characters either help or hinder Christian or Christiana. The actions of those secondary characters are dependent on whether they are represented as good or evil. A character's economic status and wealth are factors that influence their sense of good or evil. A character's economic status is determined by the housing and material goods that the character owns. Characters that usually possess great wealth are evil and characters that usually possess little wealth are good which is reflected upon their beliefs, depiction, and actions.

Since the story is based on the ideologies of Christianity, the principles of Christianity would define the concepts of good and evil. This implies that any character who does not follow God is evil. Similarly, any character who does follow God is good. "Over this stile is the way to Doubting Castle, which is kept by Giant Despair, who despiseth the king of the Celestial Country, and seeks to destroy his holy pilgrims." (Bunyan, page 146) This is a warning written by Christian and Hopeful, Christian's companion throughout his journey. The Giant Despair is an example of a character who does not follow God because within the warning, he is described as a person who hates God, the king of Celestial City, and thus would be classified as evil. At the same time, he is one of the few characters who own a castle (Doubting Castle), which represents great wealth. Similarly, many of the other castle owners, such as Beelzebub, do not follow God, classifying them as evil as well. On the other side of the spectrum, characters with little wealth would be perceived as good, therefore they are very faithful to God. ".. so he had him into a private room;..., Christian saw the picture of a grave person hung up against the wall..It had eyes lifted up to heaven, and the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written up his lips..." (Bunyan, page 35) When Christian accompanied Interpreter, one of his spiritual guides, to the room, Christian is immediately struck by the painting. It can be inferred that Interpreter holds the word of God with the highest regard; the symbolism of the large painting in his room relates to God's presence in his mind and soul. This means that Interpreter had placed the painting of Christ so that it would conspicuous. Interpreter holds great pride in this painting because it is a depiction of Jesus Christ. In addition, he has converted each room in his house into different lessons for travelling pilgrims. For example, one room would contain a fire, representing faith where a man would douse water upon it. However, the fire grows bigger because another man would pour oil in at the same time. The water-pourer represents the devil, who attempts to put out the fire, while the oil-pourer represents Christ, who nurtures it. Interpreter is a man of middle class because he lives in an ordinary house, which is common in Pilgrim's Progress.

While the characters' belief is an important aspect to look at, how John Bunyan has depicted the characters is important as well. The depiction of the characters is also reflected upon the character's economical class. Pilgrim's Progress is set in an environment with Christianity as the dominant religion; therefore the description of an evil character would resemble the description of a grotesque creature from hell, such as demons. The archetypal demon can be described as a creature with beast-like features. "Now the monster was hideous to behold; he was clothed with scales like a fish..., he had wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke, and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion." (Bunyan, page 70) This quote is a description of Apollyon, the demon that Christian encounters during his pilgrimage. In addition to being a demon by name, Apollyon possess the physical



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