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Pilgrim's Progress | Study Guide

John Bunyan

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Pilgrim's Progress | Characters

Character Description
Christian Christian is the protagonist of The Pilgrim's Progress, Part 1. His journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City allegorically represents the Christian believer's rejection of earthly things in pursuit of heaven. Read More
John Bunyan John Bunyan (1628–88) is the author and narrator of The Pilgrim's Progress. He maintains a strong authorial presence throughout the text. Read More
Christiana Christiana is the wife of Christian and the protagonist of The Pilgrim's Progress, Part 2. Initially unwilling to leave her home in the City of Destruction, she eventually sets out in her husband's footsteps to seek the Celestial City. Read More
Mercy Mercy is a young neighbor of Christiana who accompanies her and her family on their journey to the Celestial City. She eventually marries Matthew, Christiana's oldest son. Read More
Great-heart Great-heart is the guide appointed to lead Christiana and Mercy on their pilgrimage. He is brave and chivalrous in a manner reminiscent of a medieval knight. Read More
Faithful Faithful is Christian's friend and former neighbor who sets forth on his own pilgrimage from the City of Destruction. The two meet up about halfway through the pilgrimage route, but Faithful is killed in the town of Vanity. Read More
Hopeful Hopeful is Christian's companion for the latter leg of his pilgrimage in Part 1. He joins Christian just after the latter's escape from the town of Vanity. Read More
Adam the First Adam the First is modeled after the biblical Adam, but he represents his predecessor's worst qualities. He seeks to live—and encourages others—a comfortable life in this world, but there are hints that he enslaves those who come to visit him.
Angels Angels appear occasionally in The Pilgrim's Progress, but they are most prominent at the end of Part 1, where they welcome Christian into the Celestial City.
Apollyon Apollyon is a demon whom Christian fights in the Valley of Humiliation. After a long and grueling combat, Christian wounds Apollyon and drives him off.
Atheist Atheist encounters Christian and Hopeful near the end of the pilgrimage. He almost made it to the Celestial City himself but turned back just before the city came into view.
Beelzebub Beelzebub, one of the many biblical names for the devil, is one of the main adversaries of the king and an enemy of pilgrims. His archers attempt to kill pilgrims on their way to the Wicket-Gate, and his servants also attempt to trap them at Vanity Fair.
Brisk Brisk is one of the worldly suitors attracted to the young and beautiful Mercy. He breaks off his wooing when he finds that she is devoted to caring for the poor rather than amassing wealth for herself.
Madam Bubble An old but wealthy woman, Madam Bubble represents the pleasures and allurements of this world. She attempts to distract Standfast from his pilgrimage as he crosses the Enchanted Ground.
By-ends By-ends is an example of a fair-weather Christian: one who is religious only when it is not inconvenient.
Charity Charity is one of the four maidens who live in Palace Beautiful and entertain pilgrims there. She asks Christian questions about the family he left behind.
Chorus of Saints A chorus of saints sings the hymn of praise from the book of Revelation in Part 1, Chapter 10.
Civility Civility, son of Legality, lives in the village of Morality and assists his father in helping pilgrims get rid of their burdens. He is mentioned but never met in the course of Bunyan's dream narrative.
Demas Demas runs a silver mine on the aptly named Hill Lucre. He lures pilgrims to abandon their quest and turn to the dangerous pursuit of wealth.
Despair Despair, also called Giant Despair, appears in both Parts 1 and 2, capturing pilgrims who venture too close to his castle. Christian escapes him in Part 1, and Great-heart slays him in Part 2.
Despondency Mr. Despondency (whose name literally means "hopelessness") is one of the captives of Giant Despair. He is liberated by Great-heart and joins the pilgrims late in Part 2.
Diffidence Diffidence is the wife of Giant Despair and an enemy of the pilgrims. She urges her husband to abuse the pilgrims until they give up the will to live.
Discontent Discontent tries to convince Faithful to leave the Valley of Humiliation because humility is "altogether without honor."
Discretion Discretion is one of the four maidens who live in Palace Beautiful and welcome pilgrims there.
Doomed miners The doomed miners appear in Part 1, Chapter 8. They do not make it to the Celestial City.
Envy Envy is one of the Vanity Fair townsfolk called to testify against Christian and Faithful. He accuses the two pilgrims of scorning the customs and laws of Vanity Fair.
Ethiopian The Ethiopian appears in a scene in the Delectable Mountains (Part 2) as part of an allegorical lesson on reputation and appearances. To Englishmen of Bunyan's time, Ethiopians were proverbially dark-skinned.
Evangelist Evangelist, whose name is also the title of the Gospel writers, is the man who visits Christian to persuade him to leave the City of Destruction and go on a pilgrimage. He is a stern but caring guide throughout Christian's journey. Evangelist appears at the beginning of Part 1 to warn Christian of the doom that will shortly befall the City of Destruction. He reappears at intervals to guide, encourage, and admonish Christian and his companions. Like the writers of the Gospels, who are also known as evangelists, he serves as a messenger who reveals the workings of God's will.
Mr. Fearing Mr. Fearing is a pilgrim who is mentioned rather than seen by the other characters. He makes it to the Celestial City despite being hindered by constant and unnecessary fears about his salvation.
Feeble-mind Feeble-mind is a pilgrim who follows the Way as best he can despite his frailty of both mind and body. Bunyan includes him to indicate that being a true Christian does not require any special physical or mental gifts.
Flatterer Flatterer manages to catch Christian and Hopeful in a net, thereby delaying—but not preventing—their journey to the Celestial City.
Fool Fool, whom the pilgrims see in the Delectable Mountains, is busy trying to whiten the skin of an Ethiopian. His actions, Bunyan says, are as futile as trying to whiten the reputation of someone "darkened" by sin.
Formalist Formalist is one of two men who attempt to climb over the wall rather than go through the Wicket-Gate. He argues that how one gets to the Celestial City is unimportant, as long as one gets there.
Gaius Gaius is an innkeeper who looks after the pilgrims when they grow tired and faint. He is the father of Phebe and thus the eventual father-in-law of Christiana's son James.
Gatekeeper The gatekeeper lets Christiana, her sons, and Mercy through the Wicket-Gate.
Godly-man In Part 2 Godly-man appears in a symbolic scene on Mount Innocence, one of the Delectable Mountains. There, two men (Prejudice and Ill-will) throw dirt at him, but his garments remain clean.
Good-will Good-will is the keeper of the Wicket-Gate, through which pilgrims must pass on their way to the Celestial City.
Grace Grace is the obedient daughter of Mnason and lives with him in the town of Vanity. She marries Christiana's son Samuel before the pilgrims resume their journey.
Great-Grace Described as "the King's champion," Great-Grace comes to the rescue of Little-Faith. He fights against the various thieves who attempt to prey on pilgrims.
Grim Also known as Bloody-man, Grim is a giant who accosts the pilgrims on their way to Palace Beautiful. He is killed by Great-heart after a brief sword fight.
Hate-good Lord Hate-good is the presiding judge in the town of Vanity. He hears the testimony against Faithful and Christian and quickly condemns the two to death, ordering the former to be executed immediately.
Help Help makes an extremely brief appearance early in Part 1, where he helps Christian extricate himself from the Slough of Despond.
Honest Honest is a plainspoken and somewhat cantankerous pilgrim whom Christiana and company meet late in their journey.
Mr. Hold-the-world Mr. Hold-the-world is a friend of Mr. By-ends. Worldly and cunning, he tries to accommodate his religion to his desire for earthly goods and pleasure.
Hypocrisy Hypocrisy, together with Formalist, climbs over the wall to get to the Celestial City because it is more convenient than going through the Wicket-Gate.
Ignorance Ignorance comes to the Celestial City via a "crooked" way rather than going through the Wicket-Gate. He is rejected by the king when he attempts to enter the City and is subsequently cast into hell.
Ill-will Ill-will is one of the two men who attempt, unsuccessfully, to sully the garments of Godly-man with dirt.
Inconsiderate Inconsiderate is one of the three thieves who assault Valiant-for-truth before running off as the other pilgrims approach.
Interpreter The Interpreter keeps a museum-like house just inside the Wicket-Gate. He appears in both parts of The Pilgrim's Progress, showing and explaining his house's symbolic contents to the pilgrims.
James James is the youngest of Christiana's four sons. Late in Part 2 he marries Gaius's daughter Phebe.
Jesus Although he is mentioned many times in the text, Jesus is spoken of as a character only in two places. In Part 1, Chapter 6 Jesus is said to have once passed through the town of Vanity, and in Part 2, Chapter 5 he is said to have had a country house in the Valley of Humiliation during his earthly life.
Joseph Joseph is the second-youngest of Christiana's sons. Late in Part 2 he marries Martha, daughter of Mnason.
King The king repeatedly mentioned in The Pilgrim's Progress is God, who rules over the Celestial City (i.e., heaven).
Legality Legality is a leading resident of the town of Morality and an alleged specialist in helping pilgrims get rid of their burdens. Christian attempts to visit him in Part 1 but never makes it to Morality.
Little-Faith Little-Faith is a pilgrim who is robbed of everything but the jewels he needs to enter the Celestial City. He makes his pilgrimage in poverty but arrives safely at his destination.
Man of this world The man of this world is busily raking straw and dust in Part 2, Chapter 2.
Martha Martha is one of Mnason's daughters. She is mentioned only briefly in connection with her marriage to Joseph, Christiana's son.
Matthew Matthew is the eldest of Christiana's sons and the eventual husband of Mercy.
Maul Maul is a giant who uses sophistry (deceptive, faulty reasoning) to dissuade pilgrims from their faith. Great-heart slays him in Part 2.
Mistrust Mistrust is, with Timorous, one of the two men who are frightened away from Palace Beautiful because of the lions there. He tries to persuade Christian to run away too and is later severely punished for his bad advice.
Mnason Mnason is the leader of a small group of pious people who live in the town of Vanity. He welcomes Christiana and her group as they pass through.
Moses Moses, here caricatured as a violent and unforgiving man, attacks Faithful as punishment for his failure to adhere to God's laws.
Much-Afraid Much-Afraid is the daughter of Despondency and a captive of Giant Despair. She is freed by the pilgrims and joins them on their trek to the Celestial City.
Obstinate Christian meets Obstinate just after setting out on his pilgrimage toward the Celestial City. He refuses to believe Christian's tale of the coming wrath and returns to the doomed City of Destruction.
Pagan Pagan is a giant who once lived in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Bunyan mentions that Pagan has long since died but terrorized many pilgrims in his time.
Passion Passion is a child found in an allegorical scene in the Interpreter's house. He is impatient and squanders the good things that are given to him.
Patience The child Patience appears in the same scene as Passion at the Interpreter's house. He is willing to wait for his reward, though it takes a long time to arrive.
Phebe Phebe is the daughter of Gaius, the host of an inn for pilgrims. She marries James late in Part 2.
Pickthank Pickthank (whose name is an early modern word meaning "yes-man") testifies against Christian and Faithful at Vanity Fair. He accuses the pilgrims of slandering the chief citizens of Vanity.
Piety Piety is one of the damsels who live at Palace Beautiful. She welcomes Christian in Part 1 and Christiana in Part 2.
Pliable Pliable appears, along with Obstinate, near the beginning of Part 1, just after Christian has left home. He accompanies Christian on his pilgrimage for a short time but turns around at the first sign of difficulty.
Pope Pope is a decrepit giant who lives in a cave in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. He symbolizes the Catholic Church, which Bunyan views as an evil force working for the ruin of souls.
Pragmatic Pragmatic is one of the three thieves who cross swords with Valiant-for-truth. Like the others, he runs off when a large group of pilgrims approaches.
Prejudice Prejudice, along with Ill-will, tries to stain the garments of Godly-man by throwing dirt at him. His effort invariably fails.
Presumption Presumption is one of three men seen sleeping on the roadside in Part 1. He is later hanged as a criminal, a fact reported in Part 2.
Pride Faithful meets Pride in the Valley of Humiliation.
Prudence Prudence is one of the maidens who live in Palace Beautiful; unlike her sisters, she has a substantial speaking role in both Part 1 and Part 2. In the latter she catechizes Christiana's sons (instructs them in religion via a series of questions and answers).
Ready-to-halt Ready-to-halt walks with the aid of crutches, but beneath his physical infirmity is a devout soul. He joins the Part 2 pilgrims just as they leave Gaius's inn.
Reliever The Reliever drives off the two men who attack Christiana and Mercy in Part 2, Chapter 2.
Sagacity Mr. Sagacity is the character within the dream world from whom Bunyan ostensibly learns the details of Christiana's pilgrimage. He is quietly dropped from the story as the main narrative of Part 2 gets underway.
Samuel Samuel is the second oldest of Christiana's sons. Late in Part 2 he marries Mnason's daughter Grace.
Secret Secret is the Celestial City messenger who visits Christiana at the beginning of Part 1. He brings her a letter from the city's king inviting her to make her pilgrimage there.
Self-will Self-will is a stubborn and impulsive pilgrim whose story is reported by Honest in Part 2, Chapter 6. His refusal to listen to others prevents him from mending his ways.
Shame Shame tries to persuade Faithful to give up his pilgrimage because religion is a "low" and "unmanly" thing. He fails to convince him despite a lengthy argument.
Shepherd boy The unnamed shepherd boy appears in the Valley of Humiliation in Part 2. He sings a song to express his contentment with his modest lifestyle.
Shepherds A group of shepherds tend their flocks on the Delectable Mountains. Though they are given names—Knowledge, Experience, Sincere, and Watchful—they effectively serve as a chorus, describing and explaining the local sights.
Shining Ones At several points in The Pilgrim's Progress Bunyan mentions "shining ones," who may be saints or angels. They appear at key moments in the text as messengers from God.
Simple Simple (in the sense of "foolish") is one of a trio of men whom Christian attempts to wake from their sleep. In Part 2 Christiana learns that he has been hanged for trying to dissuade pilgrims.
Skill Mr. Skill is a physician who lives near Palace Beautiful. He prescribes Matthew medicine to cure him of indigestion brought on by eating forbidden fruit.
Slay-good Slay-good is a giant who terrorizes the countryside near Gaius's inn. Great-heart kills him and rescues Feeble-mind in the process.
Sloth Sloth is one of three men whom Christian spies sleeping early in Part 1. When Christiana comes to the same point in her pilgrimage, she learns that Sloth has been hanged as a criminal.
Spies Two unnamed men, sometimes referred to as spies in visual depictions of The Pilgrim's Progress, meet Christian as he is about to enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death. They are fleeing the horrors of the valley and urge him to do the same.
Standfast One of the last characters to appear in Part 2, Standfast is first seen giving a prayer of thanks on the Enchanted Ground. He takes his name from his ability to "stand fast" (i.e., persevere) in the face of extreme temptation.
Superstition Superstition is one of the three witnesses for the prosecution in the trial at Vanity Fair. He accuses Christian and Faithful of disgracing the religion of the town of Vanity.
Take heed Take heed, the counterpart of Heedless, escapes the Valley of the Shadow of death where his companion fails to do so.
Talkative Talkative is a false Christian who would rather discuss faith than practice it. He is shown up as a phony by Christian and Faithful, who avoid his company thereafter.
Tell-true Tell-true is an evangelist-like figure who brings the news of the Celestial City to Dark-land. There, it reaches Valiant-for-truth and inspires him to go on pilgrimage.
Temporary Temporary is named by Christian as an example of a pilgrim who made a promising start but then backslid into his old ways.
Timorous Timorous is one of a pair of characters who attempts to warn Christian away from Palace Beautiful because its gate is guarded by lions. He is later burned through the tongue with a hot iron as punishment for trying to interfere in Christian's journey.
Mrs. Timorous Mrs. Timorous is a resident of the City of Destruction and a neighbor of Christiana and Mercy. Early in Part 2, she briefly attempts to dissuade these two women from making a pilgrimage to the Celestial City.
Too-bold Near the end of Part 2, a man named Too-bold is found sleeping on the Enchanted Ground. He is a former pilgrim who was caught off-guard by the allurements of the Ground and never completed his journey.
Two ugly men The two ugly ("ill-favored") men attempt to attack Christiana and Mercy in Part 2, Chapter 2.
Unidentified voice An unidentified voice quotes Psalm 23 in Part 1, Chapter 4.
Unnamed monster The unnamed monster, who terrorizes pilgrims near Vanity, is killed in Part 2, Chapter 6.
Unnamed saint The unnamed saint or angel rescues Christian and Hopeful from Flatterer's net in Part 1, Chapter 9.
Vain-Confidence Vain-Confidence is convinced that the "by-path" (side route) he chooses will lead to the Celestial City. He fails to watch where he is going and falls to his death in a deep pit.
Vain-Hope Vain-Hope is the ferryman whom Ignorance hires to get him across the River of Life.
Valiant-for-truth Often known just as "Valiant," this is a knight whom the pilgrims meet late in Part 2. He is first seen defending himself against a group of thieves representing various vices.
Want-wit The Want-wit is one of the two men seen attempting to whiten the skin of the Ethiopian in the Delectable Mountains (Part 2). His futile effort represents the attempt to clean up the reputation of a person whose name is "darkened" by sin.
Madam Wanton Madam Wanton, whose name implies indulgence in various bodily pleasures, is a resident of the City of Destruction. She is a friend of Christiana's neighbors, who are committed to enjoying this life rather than seeking another.
Watchful Watchful is the name of the porter (the doorkeeper) at Palace Beautiful.
Wild-head Wild-head is one of the three thieves who assault Valiant-for-truth and are then chased off.
Worldly Wiseman Worldly Wiseman hails from a town near the City of Destruction and offers dubious advice to Christian. He tells Christian of a shortcut to get rid of his burden without any further suffering, but the shortcut ends in a deadly trap.
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