The Pilgrim’s Progress

by: John Bunyan

Part II: The Eighth Stage, Author’s Farewell

Summary Part II: The Eighth Stage, Author’s Farewell

Analysis

The emphasis on women in Part II culminates in the figure of Madam Bubble, the last thwarter met by any of the pilgrims. Madam Bubble is a vibrant and colorful character. She is evil but also scintillating. To accentuate her character, Bunyan adds realistic details about mannerisms and gestures that he rarely grants to the other characters, such as the way Bubble smiles and touches her purse while she speaks. This vibrant representation of her character reinforces her majesty and power, which some may understand to be divine. Strong and dominating, Madam Bubble is the opposite of the strong female pilgrims in Part II. She is the anti-heroine whose wicked power balances the good power of the positive heroines Mercy and Christiana.

Heedless and Too-bold display the importance of communication in The Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan insists that pilgrimage demands understanding as well as travel. These two failed pilgrims have done almost everything right, having reached the very outskirts of the Celestial City. Obviously they made it through the Slough of Despond, past Giant Despair, and survived all the challenges facing the other pilgrims. Clearly Heedless and Too-bold are admirable characters. However, the pilgrims’ only failing is that they talk in their sleep. This flaw summarizes their failure to communicate rationally and their failure to deeply understand pilgrimage. They may have performed all the deeds of a good pilgrim, but they can only babble about the meaning of their achievements. In the end, they have failed.

The pilgrims’ encounter with Valiant-for-truth demonstrates again how Christian’s earlier pilgrimage affects the present one. They meet Valiant-for-truth at the exact spot where Christian met Little-Faith, whom the same thieves attacked. Bunyan directly contrasts the two characters by involving them in distinctly parallel situations. Where Little-Faith is known for his cowardice, Valiant-for-truth is known for his courage and skill. The second pilgrimage does not just repeat the first pilgrimage but grows from it and expands on it. The fact that Valiant-for-truth and so many other characters have learned from Christian’s example shows that Part I is more than a prequel to Part II. Christian’s journey also provides a lesson that the characters in Part II learn from.

The detail about Christiana and the others meeting their maker suggests that their final destination is death. Unlike Christian in Part I, Christiana’s group not only arrives in the Celestial City but actually die and meet their maker, the Master, who seems to be God himself. They fulfill their pilgrimage more dramatically and solemnly than Christian did at the end of Part I. Christian arrived at his joyous destination but without any mention of an encounter with God. Ready-to-halt seems to understand that he will not return from his trip to see the Master, and this is evident when he arranges to give his crutches to his son. While Christian’s tale ended with his heavenly joy, Bunyan suggests in Part II that this joy comes after life is over.