Christian, originally known as Graceless, is an inhabitant of the City of Destruction who leaves behind his wife and children in order to seek the Celestial City. He encounters many obstacles on his way to his destination, mirroring the temptations and trials faced by a Christian believer.
John Bunyan includes himself in The Pilgrim's Progress, not only as the strong-voiced narrator but also appearing in the beginnings of Parts 1 and 2, both of which he frames in the context of his dreams.
Christiana, Christian's wife, initially questions her husband's desire to go on a pilgrimage to the Celestial City and tries to stop him. When he sets out on his own, she remains in the City of Destruction with their four sons. In Part 2 she receives a summons from the king of the Celestial City (i.e., Christ) and sets out to answer it, accompanied by her sons and her neighbor Mercy.
The aptly named Mercy is a pious and kindhearted young woman who cares for the poor. Despite not receiving a summons herself, she joins Christiana on a pilgrimage to the Celestial City, partly out of love for her friend and partly out of concern for her own soul. A maiden of marriageable age, she rejects worldly suitors before eventually wedding Christiana's son, Matthew.
Great-heart first appears early in Part 2 as a guide assigned to accompany Christiana and Mercy to the Celestial City. He is a knight-like figure who defends the other pilgrims against the assaults of thieves, bandits, and evil giants. These acts of physical bravery symbolize spiritual strength and the ability to resist temptation.
Faithful is a fellow pilgrim who, in Part 1, sets out to escape the City of Destruction. He and Christian, his former neighbor, are reunited just after the Valley of the Shadow of Death and travel together awhile. They journey as far as the town of Vanity, where both are imprisoned and Faithful dies a martyr's death.
Hopeful, a former resident of Vanity, becomes a companion to Christian after being inspired by Faithful's pious example. He accompanies Christian all the way to the Celestial City. Hopeful is not an especially well-defined character apart from the trait that gives him his name; he seems to serve mainly as someone for Christian to talk to.