Hannah Hurnard’s beloved tale Hinds’ Feet on High Places draws heavily upon three sources: the Bible, her personal life, and John Bunyan’s classic The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come (part 1, 1678; part 2, 1694). The title, from the Bible, Habakkuk 3:19, reflects Hurnard’s belief that God will lift up even the most damaged soul:The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
Hurnard personally understood what it meant to be a damaged soul. From an early age she suffered from seizures and stuttering. As a result, she was afraid of many things, including public places and embarrassing herself in front of people other than her family. Furthermore, she suffered a crisis in faith until her dramatic conversion experience at age nineteen. In Hinds’ Feet on High Places, Hurnard’s protagonist, Much-Afraid, takes her name from the character in Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress and, like Hurnard, is a doubting soul, physically deformed. An orphaned shepherdess, Much-Afraid’s deformed mouth mars her speech and facial expression, while her crooked feet render walking difficult. These deformities are allegorical; the damaged mouth clearly represents Hurnard’s stuttering, while the feet symbolize her inability to live a holy life.
Much-Afraid’s greatest joy is in serving the Chief Shepherd, and she longs for healing because she wants to serve him better. She frequently visits the Shepherd, in whom she finds comfort and the promise of love surpassing that of family. Threatened with an arranged marriage, Much-Afraid turns to the Shepherd for advice. Despondent, she wishes to leave her home in the Valley of Humiliation and travel to the High Places, where relatives will be unable to inflict torment. The Shepherd offers to grant her wish, but Much-Afraid doubts she is physically capable of the journey. The Shepherd pledges to assist her by providing two traveling companions, Sorrow and Suffering, if she will completely trust him for guidance and...
(The entire section is 863 words.)