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The Pilgrim’s Progress

John Bunyan

Part II: The Second Stage, the Third Stage

Part II: Author’s Introduction, the First Stage

Part II: The Second Stage, the Third Stage, page 2

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Summary

Christiana, Mercy, and the boys continue on their journey. Christiana sings of her happiness at being a pilgrim at last. They spot a garden on the other side of the wall. The boys mischievously climb over the wall and steal some fruit from the garden, which belongs to the devil. Christiana chastises them, not knowing that the fruit belongs to a great enemy.

As they proceed, two Ill-Favored Ones come up to meet them. Modestly, Christiana and Mercy veil their faces. The two strangers do not mean to rob them, but say they seek something else from the women. Christiana and Mercy are terrified and cry for help. A helper, called the Reliever, emerges from a nearby house. He drives away the Ill-Favored Ones. Mercy and Christiana express their gratitude, and the Reliever asks why the women did not request a “conductor,” or guide, for their journey from the Lord. Christiana realizes her folly and apologizes for it.

Christiana and Mercy arrive at the house of the Interpreter, who once sheltered and instructed her husband. Inside the house, the Interpreter shows the women various meaningful scenes in his Significant Rooms, just as he did before with Christian. Christiana sees a man raking muck and realizes this man represents humans who are overly absorbed in carnal matters, never looking up to heaven. Next the Interpreter shows Christiana an empty room with a spider on the wall. Christiana recognizes the spider as sin.

The Interpreter then leads the women into a room where a butcher kills a sheep that meekly accepts its death. He explains that all Christians should accept their deaths in this way. Next the Interpreter guides them through a garden of flowers, all beautiful in different ways, but the flowers do not quarrel over one another’s beauty, which suggests that humans too should accept the lot they are given. The Interpreter points out several more moral emblems in his house, including a robin with a spider in its mouth. The Interpreter explains that the robin is like a “professor,” or one who claims religion without living it sincerely, since robins seem bright and clean but secretly eat sinful spiders.

The Interpreter invites his guests to eat and asks them how they decided to begin their pilgrimages. Christiana explains she was moved to join her husband but was held up by neighbors, who frightened her. Mercy says that when she stopped by Christiana’s house and saw her packing up to leave she was compelled to join her. In the morning the Interpreter bids them to wash before leaving. After their baths they are clothed in fresh garments and are ready to continue their journey.

The Interpreter sends them on their way accompanied by his manservant, Great-heart, who takes weapons and armor with him and rides ahead on the way toward the Palace Beautiful. During their travel, Christiana and Great-heart engage in a deep and detailed theological discussion of pardon in word and in deed. They pass the spot where Christian lost his burden, and Christiana feels elated. They also pass three rogues named Simple, Sloth, and Presumption who had crossed paths earlier with Christian. Now they hang in chains on the side of the road.

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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

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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.

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