John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegorical story about the Christian religion. It allegorizes the journey of a Christian into “the Celestial City, which represents heaven. Although Pilgrim’s Progress may seem simple and straightforward, there are many deeper meanings throughout the whole story.Bunyan uses the names of his characters to signify whom the character represents in the story, for example, the character Hopeful represents hopefulness, Help represents people who are willing to help others in need of assistance, Faithful represents people who are faithful to whatever they are associated with, and the main character, Christian, represents all young Christians in the world. His journey to the Celestial City is a journey every Christian must face in their lifetime before allowed into heaven. Within his journey there are many obstacles such as temptations both tangible and intangible for instance, the merchandises sold at Vanity Fair and the shortcuts offered, illustrate temptations real Christians must face and overcome; finding an easy way into heaven, and being thrown off course by material things. The character Christian overcomes many obstacles before reaching his destination, the Celestial City. But during his journey he does not face all these obstacles alone. He meets a variety of people all through his journey to the Celestial City; some of these people mock his traveling to the Celestial City, some decide to follow him, and some help him along his way. Christian meets Faithful who decides to join him on his travels. Faithful is a character that faces many difficulties on his own journey to the Celestial City; his journey has many differences and similarities to the life of Jesus Christ.
Faithful first meets Christian while he is upon his journey to save his life. Christian cries out for Faithful to stop and wait so they can be companions along their travel, but Faithful replies, “No, I am upon my life, and the avenger of blood is behind me” (60). In the story, the life he is trying to save is his real, tangible life. But his running away from the avenger of blood to save his “life” actually symbolizes saving Faithful’s spiritual life. Because he has sinned and broken the Ten Commandment, “You shall not kill,” he is now being chased by death and if caught, he will kill Faithful; this death characterizes the death of eternal life and therefore not being able to enter heaven (Deuteronomy 5:17). In the bible there is a passage that talks about the avenger of blood and who is he. “This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If anyone kills his neighbor unintentionally without having been at enmity with him in time past…he may flee to one of these cities and save his life; lest the avenger of blood in hot anger pursue the manslayer and overtake him” (Deuteronomy 19:4-6). Jesus Christ was born without sin, and never sinned throughout his lifetime. Faithful, however, who although did not try to kill his neighbor, killed him unintentionally and therefore, sinned. Jesus would never have caused pain to any living creatures, neither accidentally nor deliberately. This is one example of how Faithful differs from Christ.
Faith is a large part in a Christian’s life and journey. Faith is also very important for one to overcome evil, corruption, and fear. Along their journey, Christian and Faithful reach Vanity Fair, a fair that sells goods solely based on vanity, such as titles, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures, lives, husbands, wifes, blood, bodies, and souls (78-79). When they first enter the fair, they cause a disturbance because of the way they dress, their speech, their unwillingness to glance at the merchants’ wares, and their answer “We buy the truth” when a merchant asks them what they are interested in buying “(80). Christian and Faithful’s presence at the fair causes such a disruption that they are brought to examination and are asked their origin, their destination, and the reason their unusual dress. Christian and Faithful answers, saying they are pilgrims journeying to “the heavenly Jerusalem” (80). Although these may not be the answers the men at the fair are looking for, they have faith in the word and are not afraid