Pilgrim's Progress

chapter 7

what kind of person is By-ends?

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By-ends represents the people who conformed to the Church of England only when it was politically beneficial to them. More generally, he represents anyone whose faith is driven by the worldliness of public opinion rather than a spiritual understanding.

Through By-ends, Bunyan critiques the aristocracy. By-ends is wealthy, and though not originally of noble stock, he has married well. His religion, he tells the pilgrims, goes with the “wind and tide,” a metaphor for popular opinion and power (116). Christian and Hopeful quickly move on, having recognized the threat of such a fickle character. By-ends and his friends, whom he encounters shortly thereafter, have studied the Art of Getting, a method of conversion that Bunyan pointedly disapproves of.

Therefore, Bunyan likens By-Ends and his friends, who are well-bred in most standards, to serpents, using the tool of simile. This comparison is an obvious reference to Genesis 1 and the Garden of Eden (118). Bunyan offers his reader a glimpse into these mens' ideology by sharing the conversation they have once they have separated from Hopeful and Christian. By-ends and his mates continue in conversation, attempting to justify their views on religion by misinterpreting scripture (119). Such a mistake would have been a clear signal to Bunyan’s readers, who were well-versed in scripture, that a these aristocrats were professing a false faith. Bunyan indicts them severely a few pages later, “how much more abominable is it to make of him and Religion a Stalking-horse to get and enjoy the World? Nor do we find any other than Heathens, Hypocrites, Devils, Witches, that are of this opinion” (121). These are some of the worst epithets Puritan could levy against another, and with them, Bunyan slams the way the upper class approaches religion. On the following page, he directs his reader to some passages in scripture that bolster his point in yet another strikingly didactic moment


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