Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim's Progress Summary and Analysis of Part II, Section II


As Christiana, Mercy, and the four boys set out once again on their journey, they come to an orchard that is owned by the devil (who owned the barking dog from their previous stop as well). The boys begin to eat the fruit from the garden, despite their mother's warnings that they have no right to it. Shortly thereafter, two men, The Ill-Favoured Ones, then try and solicit Christiana and Mercy, but Christiana spurns them strongly. The Ill-Favoured Ones remain relentless, so the two women cry for help, which draws out some of the nearby inhabitants, including the Reliever. The Ill-Favoured ones retreat quickly, and the women thank the Reliever. The Reliever is mystified as to why the "weak" women did not ask the Lord for a conductor at the gate. Christiana blames herself for this oversight, because she had a dream that foretold of this run-in. However, the pilgrims emerge unscathed and consider themselves lucky.

Like Christian before them, the first big milestone this new party reaches is the Interpreter's house, where they are received joyfully. Before serving them dinner, the Interpreter shows them all of the same things he showed to Christian. The first new thing that the Interpreter shows Christiana is a man with a muckrake, who cannot look up, despite the One standing over his head, offering him a Celestial Crown. The muckraker does not acknowledge the crown, but keeps raking. Christiana guesses correctly that the muckrake represents the carnal mind (221). The man with the muckrake believes that heaven is a fable and he doesn't take it seriously. Christiana prays not to be distracted by such carnal and worldly things. In the next room is a spider, whose venom represents the sneaking power of sin. The Interpreter shows them that their faith can overcome even the deadly venom of such a spider. The next room holds a hen and her chicks. The hen looks up to heaven when she takes a drink, which teaches the pilgrims to be thankful for the source of their mercy. She also instructs her chicks, which speaks to the teaching role of a pious woman. The following room has a sheep that remains passive as the butcher slaughters it; so must the pilgrims submit passively to suffering. The pilgrims must be sheep to their King. In the garden, they see a robin eating a spider, which allows the Interpreter to warn the pilgrims to beware of those who seem social and good in public, but sin (eat spiders) in private (224). Then, they see a tree that looks strong, but is rotten on the inside, warning them again to be wary of people who pretend to be holy but inside, their hearts are "good for nothing but to be tinder in the devil's tinderbox (228)". Finally, they all sit down to dine with the Interpreter. Christiana relays the tale of her pilgrimage thus far. Mercy adds her own motivations into the narrative. That night, Mercy is so joyful and full of praise for God that she cannot sleep.

In the morning, the Interpreter sends the pilgrims to the Bath of Sanctification in the garden. Innocent informs them of the proper ways to bathe and afterwards, the Interpreter gives him his mark as well as new white clothing. Finally, the Interpreter bestows upon them a guide, Mr. Great-Heart. After setting off, Christiana asks Mr. Great-heart about the different ways of obtaining pardon- by word or by deed. Great-heart launches into a speech about the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and how it is a combination of Godhead and Manhood. This is why His obedience can make many others righteous, because He has suffered for the sins of man.

They soon come upon Simple, Sloth and Presumption now hanging by the neck by the side of the road. Christian had once offered to help these men but they refused. However, because the bodies of these men remain by the side of the road, they serve as a reminder to pilgrims not to err from their purpose. Later, the group arrives at the hill Difficulty, and Great-heart leads them in the right direction. They rest and snack at the arbour where Christian fell asleep and lost his roll. Christiana leaves her bottle of spirits behind. Great-heart explains that forgetfulness is common at resting places and says that Pilgrims should take caution.

Then, they see the place where Mistrust and Timorous tried to steer Christian towards the lions. There now stands a stage, which marks the place where Mistrust and Timorous' tongues were burned with a hot iron as punishment for interfering with Christian's journey. After passing this site, the pigrims eventually come to the lions that were asleep when Christian passed them. The lions are awake this time, and alert Grim (or Bloody-Man, as he's also called), who comes to prevent the pilgrims from continuing on their way. With his sword drawn, Mr. Great-Heart forces Grim to retreat and then he slays the angry giant. Because the lions are chained, the pilgrims and Mr. Great-Heart are then able to continue on their way without further incident.


The tone of Christiana’s pilgrimage alludes to progress and transformation. Christiana sings as her small group sets off, “Our Tears to Joy, our Fears to Faith, / Are turned as we see” (215). Similar to Part I, the song is a register used exclusively for truth in this part.

Almost immediately, however, the pilgrims make a misstep. The boys eat the fruit from the garden that the careful reader knows belongs to the Devil. The tip off is the presence of the dog, mentioned before to belong to Satan. Christiana is upset, but there are no immediate ill effects. The absence of immediate retribution speaks to the insidious workings of the Devil. As the reader will see, the act of the boys will not be without consequence.

The band of pilgrims soon arrives at the Interpreter’s House, and like Christian, the Interpreter shows the new pilgrims see a wide variety of scenes that teach them (and more importantly, the reader) how to think and read in metaphors. Christiana proves herself to be quite astute like her husband, a fact that speaks quite powerfully to gender roles in the Puritan community.

It is well established that the Puritan community stressed biblical literacy across gender categories, even as they maintained traditional gender roles in marriage. Women were well educated in scripture, and often wrote religious tracts (cf. Hughes). Gender and the capabilities of women become a persistent theme in the second part of the text, which is also representative of the gender roles that existed at the time that Bunyan was writing Pilgrim's Progress.

When the Interpreter asks Mercy how she came on pilgrimage, we see once again the increased physicality that marks the journey in Part II, for she blushes and trembles. She admits that she is frightened that she might not be allowed into the Celestial City at the end, but the fear has not deterred her from trying. The Interpreter, particularly impressed with her devotion to and trust in Christiana, compares her to Ruth, an allusion to one of the honored and respected women in the Old Testament.

The bath of sanctification in the Interpreter’s garden and the subsequent sealing of the pilgrims closely mirror the sacrament of baptism. Bunyan once again highlights water as a life-giving source. After they are properly cleansed and equipped for their journey, they pilgrims can set out safely, with a male guard to keep them on track.

On the way to the Beautiful Palace, Great-Heart explains the theology of the atonement, or the way in which Christ’s death atones for human sins. The doctrine is quite complicated and has undergone several major revisions throughout Christian history, but Great-Heart explains it rationally and simply, answering Christiana's follow-up questions along the way. The exchange between Christiana and Great-heart on the subject of divine pardon typifies the ideal relationship between pastor and congregant. Great-Heart, who uses a coat as a metaphor for righteousness, explains that Christ has no need of his coat, so he gives it to people who do need it (233). These easy-to-understand metaphors are the hallmark of Bunyan’s aptitude for teaching.

As the group of pilgrims walk, they also see some men hanging by the side of the road. These unfortunate souls serve as a sobering reminder to the pilgrims that some men are past saving (237). Later, when the pilgrims get hungry, they take out the provisions given them by the Interpreter (240). Food, like the bodies that it satisfies, features much more prominently in the second part of the book. True to form, however, the food means provides much more than nutrition for Bunyan's protagonists. Here, for example, food symbolizes the spiritual nourishment that the Interpreter gave them. The women and children need more assistance than the male pilgrims, so the Interpreter provides them with proportionately more support.

Just before the band of pilgrims arrives at the Beautiful Palace, Church and State, or rather, the Church of the State and Bunyan’s Church, clash once more. The lions, which represent state power, are awake this time, though restrained, but their keeper, the Giant Grim, fights Great-Heart. The size of the threat is depicted by the size of the opponent (a giant as opposed to a man), but righteousness and truth prevail.