The Pilgrim's Progress

by John Bunyan

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Discuss The Pilgrim's Progress as a masterpiece of Puritanism.

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The Pilgrim's Progress is both a religious allegory and a symbolic representation of a Christian man's journey through life. This is indicative of the fact that the main character's name is Christian (an "everyman" type figure); the book is written in biblical prose; and characters Christian interacts with such as Faithful, Discretion, and Charity are traits reflective of Puritanical ideologies. At the time of its publication, The Pilgrim's Progress was the second most prominent text in the Christian world, with the exception of the Bible.

Bunyan's text contains the element of conversion, in which the main character engages in the process of turning to God. The spreading of Christianity was an objective of Puritanism, and although the pilgrim's journey is a larger-than-life fiction, the principles it teaches were meant to guide Puritans in their daily life. An article written by John James in Foundations, an international journal of evangelical theology discusses elements of the biblical stories included in Bunyan's text; the stories, which make up the text's allegorical significance, were communicated as theological and pastoral considerations for Puritans.

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John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678) follows the precepts of Puritanism both for its style and content. The allegorical text of a soul's journey to spiritual salvation and rejection of material temptations is told by Bunyan in that plain style that Puritan thinkers said should caracterise literature. The message should be made easily comprehensible for the masses and this is certainly the case with the book whose main purpose is to instruct and give a perfect example of Puritan life. Thanks to its accessibility, The Pilgrim's Progress was one of the most popular books in English-speaking countries until the nineteenth century. On the level of content, The Pilgrim's Progress shows how Puritan beliefs inform every aspect of its main character's life, making him an elected soul for spiritual salvation.

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