Who is the main character in The Pilgrims Progress?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main character in John Bunyan's allegorical tale The Pilgrim's Progress is given the single name Christian. According to the summary in enotes:

Christian becomes distressed with his life in the City of Destruction and insists that his wife and four children accompany him in search of salvation. When they refuse to leave, Christian determines to set out alone. Henceforth his life story consists of hardships, sufferings, and struggles to overcome obstacles—physical, human, and emotional—that beset his path. 

Since Christian is on a long journey, he carries a large, heavy pack on his back. This symbolizes his cares and especially his sins and burden of guilt. He encounters all sorts of people along the way who represent the various types of lost individuals who do not understand and practice true Protestant Christianity, as well as enlightened and helpful people who offer him valuable guidance. The story in some ways resembles Cervantes Don Quixote and Voltaire's Candide. The narrator of the tale, presumably Bunyan himself, presents it as a something he saw in a dream:

I lighted on a certain place where was a Den, and I laid me down in that place to sleep: and, as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back.

After his long journey and many misadventures, Christian finally is relieved of his "great burden" and gains admission to the Celestial City along with some other deserving pilgrims he has met along the way.

The Pilgrim's Progress, published in 1678, is regarded as one of the most important works in English religious literature. It was popular with general readers for several centuries. It exemplifies the Protestant belief that each individual must work out his own salvation with the guidance of the Holy Bible and especially the New Testament. Many of the characters Christian encounters on his long journey still represent types of people who are to be met with today, including Mr. Worldly Wiseman.

umairhp | Student

Christian is the main character and the hero of The Pilgrim's Progress. According to the story, Christian had a very simple personality and the story describes his quest for finding the ultimate truth about Religion. In spite of his plain personality he was able to dominate every phase of the story. Christian started off as an extremely poor man who thought that he's being punished by the God for his sins. Therefore, he sets out on a pilgrimage to the Celestial City where he thought he would be forgiven for his sins and would spend all the eternity serving the God.

None of the other characters in the story stayed permanently till the end. They were basically the people that he met during his journey to the Celestial City. Hopeful and Faithful were the two characters who shared his experiences. Faithful was executed at the Vanity fair and Hopeful joins Christian afterwards to accompany him to the Celestial City.

Read the study guide:
The Pilgrim's Progress

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