The Pilgrim’s Progress

by: John Bunyan

Great-heart

Characters Great-heart

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.