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Why does the narrator say the fair is called Vanity Fair? Why do you think the...

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serena001 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 21, 2010 at 12:54 PM via web

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Why does the narrator say the fair is called Vanity Fair? Why do you think the merchandise sold here includes not only sins but also legitimate possessions? According to the narrator, what person once passed through Vanity Fair, being tempted by the lord of the fair but without participating whatsoever in its vanities?

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted January 21, 2010 at 10:53 PM (Answer #1)

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Vanity Fair, in Pilgrim's Progress, is a fair where "all that is there sold, or that comes thither is vanity." (The work is a Christian allegory. We follow the main character, Christian, through a journey which is a type of pilgrimage). Bunyan includes several quotes from the Bible about vanity after this introduction. Sins are sold at the fair, but also legitimate possessions because, according to the Bible, man can turn ordinary possesions into idols that detract from God. Our homes, our worldly goods, even our families can become idols if we place too much emphasis on them; and when this happens, "all is vanity."

The only person capable of passing through Vanity Fair without being tarnished was "that Blessed One," who is Jesus. Bunyan says of Beelzebub, lord of the fair (the devil) "that he might, if possible, allure that Blessed One to cheapen and buy some of his vanities. But he had no mind to the merchandise; and therefore left the town without laying out so much as one farthing upon these vanities." In the Christian faith, Jesus was the only perfect being, the only one that did not sin, and the only one capable of resisting vanity.

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