Quote 2

Here is a poor burdened sinner. I come from the City of Destruction, but am going to Mount Zion, that I may be delivered from the Wrath to come; I would therefore, Sir, since I am informed that by this Gate is the Way thither, know if you are willing to let me in?

Christian introduces himself to the gatekeeper Goodwill with these lines in the Second Stage of Part I. The quotation forcefully displays Christian’s sense of identity and his sense of who he is in the world. Christian does not think of mentioning his own name in his introduction. Partly he does not think of his name because he represents all Christian pilgrims in this allegory. Christian is an Everyman, and he does not need a name because he symbolizes all. But in psychological terms, Christian’s omission of his name reveals something more about him: he has very little self-consciousness in the book. He reflects on himself when he contemplates his own situation, but he rarely thinks about himself to review his emotions or ideas. Christian has a soul that he cares about saving but does not have a very distinct personality or sense of self. And without a self, he has no need for a name.

Despite not having much of a personality, Christian defines himself by his moral status (“poor burdened sinner”), origin in the City of Destruction, and ultimate goal to reach the Celestial City. He explains his reasons for setting out and speaks to the gatekeeper only because he needs to overcome the obstacle in his way and continue his journey. Everything he says in this quotation refers to his basic need to advance, and he defines himself solely as a traveler. In Christian’s view, his starting point and end point communicate all there is to know about him. Christian’s politeness to the gatekeeper, whom he calls “sir,” shows his cordial respect for people of all social levels, high and low. This formality remains constant throughout The Pilgrim’s Progress and expresses Christian’s deep religious belief that all are equal before God.