Literature Study GuidesPilgrims ProgressPart 2 Pilgrimage Of Christiana And Her Children Summary

Pilgrim's Progress | Study Guide

John Bunyan

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Pilgrim's Progress | Part 2, Pilgrimage of Christiana and Her Children | Summary

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Summary

John Bunyan frames Part 2 as a second dream vision, experienced under similar circumstances to Part 1, but years later. Awaking in the dream world, Bunyan meets Mr. Sagacity, who tells him that Christian is now highly thought of in the City of Destruction, though few wish to follow his example. Sagacity also reports that Christiana, Christian's wife, left on a pilgrimage of her own with her four sons. At this point Sagacity essentially drops out of the story, leaving Bunyan to narrate the remainder of the dream.

Christiana's pilgrimage begins much like her husband's, with a conviction that she is living a sinful life and a desire to change. She is greeted one day by a man named Secret, who bears a summons from the king of the Celestial City. Once she explains this to her sons, they are eager to go along, but the family is interrupted by a visit from neighbors Mrs. Timorous and Mercy. Mrs. Timorous tries to get Christiana to give up her travel plans, but Mercy, a compassionate young woman, insists on going with Christiana at least part of the way. As the pilgrims, now six in number, set out, Mrs. Timorous goes home to gossip about them with her worldly friends.

Analysis

Bunyan's allusion to two different "dream" episodes may reflect the two different periods of imprisonment he suffered, one long (1661–72) and the other relatively short (1676–77). In Part 1, Bunyan made the connection explicit via a marginal note, describing the "den" in which he lay down to sleep as a jail. No such direct comparison is made in Part 2. Instead, Bunyan elliptically says that he has "had some concerns" (i.e., business to tend to) in the place he visited in Part 1. In any case it is true that neither part of The Pilgrim's Progress was published until after Bunyan's second and final release from prison.

Mr. Sagacity, who initially seems like an important figure, is really just a framing device who will be quickly and quietly abandoned. He serves both to introduce Part 2 and to give Bunyan an excuse to recap the events of Part 1, under the guise of asking what happened to Christian. The real one to watch here—the protagonist of Part 2—is Christiana, whose remorse over failing to follow her husband is cured when she begins her own belated pilgrimage. The role of the wife and mother in the early 17th-century England and the Americas among European immigrants was strictly maintained as subordinate to her husband, whose "patriarchal role as governor ... was ... instituted by God and nature." Faced with the example of her husband having achieved entry into the Celestial City, Christiana, as a good wife, saw her failure to accompany him as a grave error and sought to rectify it by following him. Mercy, who is introduced as if she were a minor character, will become, in effect, Christiana's sidekick and play a major role in the remaining chapters. Since such feminine qualities as mercy, compassion, and modesty were considered appropriate to women, it is appropriate that mercy should appear as a woman. Congregations of Protestants made distinct separations of gender in all facets of life. The small group of Shakers, also called the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing founded in England in 1747, for example, entirely separates men and women from any and all contact with one another, and membership in the Church is achieved by conversion only.

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