Skip over navigation

The Pilgrim’s Progress

John Bunyan

Part I: The Third Stage, the Fourth Stage

Part I: Author’s Apology, the First Stage, and the Second Stage

Part I: The Third Stage, the Fourth Stage, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary

Continuing on his journey, Christian comes to a wall that the narrator identifies as Salvation. The wall fences in a field of rising land containing a cross and a sepulcher, or tomb. Passing by the wall, Christian feels his burden spontaneously drop to the ground. Amazed and relieved that the sight of the cross has eased his burden, Christian stands and cries for a while. The three Shining Ones appear and hand Christian a rolled-up certificate he will need one day to enter the Celestial City.

Proceeding onward along the “strait and narrow” path of the wall of Salvation, Christian notices three figures—Simple, Sloth, and Presumption—asleep and bound with iron chains. He warns these figures that they must go on their way, but they want only to go back to sleep. Christian then sees two figures scrambling over the wall instead of following the narrow path as he did. Their names are Formalist and Hypocrisy, and they come from the town of Vain-Glory; they are headed to Mount Zion for praise. Christian accuses them of cheating by climbing over the wall, calling them thieves in the eyes of God, but they disagree.

Christian ascends a hill called Difficulty. There he finds a pleasant arbor where he decides to rest. He takes his rolled certificate from his chest pocket and falls asleep. Two men awaken him, warning of lions in the area. Christian is unsure what to do. He cannot go back where he came from, but he is scared of the lions. When Christian reaches for his certificate, he finds it missing. Reproaching himself for sleeping in the daytime and being careless, he calls sleep sinful. After retracing his steps, Christian finds his certificate and vows always to remain watchful. He catches a glimpse of the pilgrims’ hostel where he will take shelter, called the Palace Beautiful (House Beautiful in some editions).

Arriving late at the pilgrims’ hotel, Christian has lost much time sleeping. The porter is skeptical about letting him in, and one of the lodge owner’s four daughters, Discretion, asks who he is. After Christian identifies himself, Discretion allows him inside. The three other daughters, Piety, Prudence, and Charity, ask about Christian’s journey. They also ask about Christian’s family and why he left them behind. He weeps when talking about his wife and sons. Finally they eat, and the four women take Christian on a tour of the lodge, showing him mementos from the history of Christianity, including the slingshot with which David killed Goliath. They give Christian weapons for protection. Christian learns that a fellow townsman named Faithful has passed by in the meantime.

The four mistresses of the Palace Beautiful accompany Christian to the end of their property and give him food for his journey. They warn him of the slippery ground he will enter, called the Valley of Humiliation. Walking through the valley, Christian sees a foul monster approaching, a human form with dragon wings and bear feet, covered in fish scales. Christian is scared but does not flee. The monster’s name is Apollyon, and he claims Christian as his subject, since Christian is on his land. Christian refutes him, saying he is already subject to a different prince, meaning Christ. Apollyon flies into a rage, voicing hatred for the rival prince. They fight with swords, and Apollyon nearly kills Christian, but Christian at the last minute saves himself and strikes Apollyon, who flies away.

Continuing onward, Christian finds himself in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, a hot desert full of pits. The narrator comments that this is where the mouth of hell is located. Christian realizes there is more danger for him here than his fight with Apollyon and hears the demons clamoring for him. He is deeply afraid but takes solace in the thought that Christ is protecting him like a candle in the dark. At the end of the valley, Christian sees the bones, ashes, and mangled remains of other pilgrims. The area is lorded over by two giants, Pope and Pagan, who devoured earlier pilgrims. Christian is not afraid, since they are both decrepit and unthreatening.

More Help

Previous Next
The man in the iron cage

by Ewan_Wattameye, July 14, 2013

I would take a certain issue with the observation that Bunyan invokes his own imprisonment when he writes about the man in the iron cage. Certainly Bunyan would have been sensitive to the idea of imprisonment, and this sensitivity could very well have emboldened his passion to warn others of the unwanted consequences of certain behaviors, but I believe there the similarity ends. Bunyan had been imprisoned for preaching the gospel without an official sanction from the religious establishment of the day; the unjust result of extreme obedienc

0 Comments

5 out of 7 people found this helpful

Missed key symbol

by rara_greenaway, March 10, 2015

The characters are very important in establishing the journey. It also dramatic irony in some cases, for instance when Christian talks to the worldly wise man- you know that he will lead him away from his current journey because you understand his name (or label) in context.

Follow Us