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Great-heart acts as a loyal companion and protector to
Christiana on her pilgrimage. He fulfills a vital function in Part
II, providing physical defense as well as spiritual guidance. Also,
he seems to have an uncanny ability to sense Christiana’s needs
(his sensitivity is shown by his name). When Christiana stays in
the House Beautiful, Great-heart shows up to accompany her farther
on her pilgrimage. Great-heart arrives instinctively, as if knowing
she is ready to continue the journey. The closeness between Great-heart
and Christiana is almost marital. In a symbolic way, he functions
as a surrogate husband to Christiana on her journey, standing in
for Christian as Christiana’s soul mate and travel companion on
the road of life.
As a compassionate protector of weak pilgrims, Great-heart
displays a mercy that even Christian himself did not show. When
Feeble-mind declines the offer to accompany Christiana’s group,
he touchingly explains that he is too weak and dull witted to be
among their ranks. But Great-heart shows the compassion that he
is named for, and he insists that his obligation as a spiritual
guide is to protect and serve those weaker than he. His mercy toward
the handicapped pilgrim Ready-to-halt displays a similar generosity.
Great-heart’s example of benevolence toward the physically or mentally
limited expands the model of Christianity put forth by Christian
in Part I. Christian was noble and heroic, but he was focused primarily
on himself and his own salvation. Great-heart demonstrates that
a hero can focus on others as well.