Pilgrim's Progress

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


Luckily, Great-Heart has not been hurt in the battle, thanks to his faith. The pilgrims then come across a man, named Honesty, who they recognize to be a pilgrim. Honesty, a humble and intelligent man, joins them on their journey. Honesty has heard about Christian and his successful pilgrimage, and makes it a point to bless Christian and Christiana's four sons.

Mr. Great-Heart then asks Honesty about Mr. Fearing, who turns out to be a mutual friend of theirs, albeit a very troublesome man. Apparently Mr. Great-Heart served as Mr. Fearing's guide on his excessively difficult pilgrimage. Mr. Great-Heart describes the familiar stages of Mr. Fearing's journey, from the Slough of Despond to the gate to the Interpreter's house, and at each stage, Mr. Fearing displayed his crippling fear of death and hell. In fact, he was so chicken-hearted that he lay outside the Interpreter's house for days, even when he saw other men knocking and gaining entry. Thanks in part to Mr. Great-Heart, Mr. Fearing did come inside and start to become comfortable. Mr. Great-heart recalls that Mr. Fearing kissed the ground in the Valley of Humiliation, but in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Mr. Fearing nearly died from his fear. He did, however, successfully complete his pilgrimage. Mr. Great-heart concludes that Mr. Fearing was terrified mostly of offending others, and he was just naturally this way. This kind of fear is the productive kind of fear, Mr. Great-Heart and James observe, for it is fear of God, and thus, is the beginning of wisdom.

Mr. Honest then presents the tale of another man, Mr. Self-Will, who claimed to be a pilgrim but never succeeded in his journey. Mr. Self-Will had his own interpretation of Scripture, and used it to justify his continued sinful behavior, even while he was on pilgrimage. This presumptive attitude, Mr. Great-heart and Mr. Honest agree, is worse than sinning itself. Mr. Honest has seen all kinds of pilgrims in his day, and many of them crumble because of the difficulty of the journey. This group, however, moves along cautiously but safely, for now.

At this point, Christiana and company find themselves in need of an inn. Christiana wishes for one, and it appears. Gaius, the inn-keeper, readily welcomes them and agrees to provide them dinner. Gaius is impressed by the pilgrims' lineage and their progress, and he suggests that Matthew and Mercy be married. In addition, the dinner, made by a cook called Taste-that-which-is-good, turns out to be quite a sumptuous feast. In addition, Gaius proves himself to be a pious and learned man in the ways of the Lord.

The group of pilgrims remain at Gaius' Inn for a month, and the marriage between Matthew and Mercy occurs. While they are still at the inn, Mercy busies herself by making clothing for the poor. Gaius tells Mr. Great-Heart of a local menace, the giant Slay-Good, and so, Mr. Great-Heart agrees to accompany the mission to dispense with the villain. Mr. Great-Heart and Gaius soon come upon the giant in the process of tormenting Mr. Feeble-mind. They kill the giant and leave his head displayed near the inn as a warning to other monsters. Meanwhile, they rescue Mr. Feeble-Mind and take him back to the inn as well.

Mr. Feeble-Mind is grateful for his rescue, and he tells the tale of his capture. The giant captured him at Assault Lane, as he was too feeble-minded to fight back. They also learn that Mr. Not-Right, Mr. Feeble-Mind's companion, was struck by a thunderbolt and killed, so it seems that Slay-Good inadvertently saved Feeble-Mind's life.

Before they leave the inn, Gaius's daughter Phebe is married to James. Gaius, proud father, throws a feast for them all. Gaius refuses any kind of payment for his hospitality, citing the good Samaritan's promise. As they leave the inn, Mr. Feeble-Mind says he wishes to stay behind, believing he is too weak to keep up with Christiana and her companions. Mr. Great-Heart assures him that his job is to care for the feeble-minded as well as the strong, and convinces him to accompany them. He acquiesces, and brings along a lame companion named Ready-to-Halt.


When the band of pilgrims encounters Mr.Honesty, Christiana and company identify him as a pilgrim because of three attributes: his clothes, his staff, and his girdle (270). The number three is significant, and has long been recognized as an important number in Christianity. Pilgrim's Progress supports this tradition (e.g. the number of weapons Great-Heart has, the number of items in many of the lists). Through Honesty’s physical appearance, Bunyan draws on a well-developed medieval iconography of the pilgrim that had persisted into the early modern era. Bunyan’s readers would have been able to peg Honesty for a pilgrim just as swiftly as the other characters did.

Honesty is the first of many characters who join the band of pilgrims led by Mr. Great-Heart as they make progress towards heaven. This ever-expanding community is quite different to the structure of the first part of the allegory, as Christian really only has one companion at a time. To be sure, Christian interacts with many along the way, but Faithful and Hopeful are his only constant companions. In the second part, however, Bunyan depicts a traveling church, a focused, like-minded community of people progressing together towards heaven. Great-Heart is a pastor, and the band of pilgrims are his flock. Some of the pilgrims are not as strong as Christian, the church is there to support all those who seek Christ, even when they cannot go it alone.

As Mr. Great-Heart describes, Mr. Fearing, Bunyan further emphasizes the diversity among the faithful. Additionally, the musical motif makes a reappearance. This time, Mr. Great-Heart likens the saved people to “a company of musicians that play upon their Trumpets and Harps, and sign their songs before the Throne” (278). The comparison involves an allusion to Revelation, which features music heavily, and it illustrates the communal side of salvation. Salvation is ultimately a matter between the individual and God, but the church of the elect makes its way towards heaven can exist as a community there. The composition of the elect diverse is like a troupe of musicians playing different instruments. As in the other instances of the motif, music accompanies something godly and true.

The end of the conversation about Mr. Fearing moves again into a discussion of the utility of fear within faith. Bunyan seemingly felt strongly enough about the nature of fear and its proper direction to repeat here what he says about it in the first part of the allegory (168). Significantly, James (who was earlier sick with fear) is the one who delivers this statement in part two. By doing this, James demonstrates how much he has grown and learned through his pilgrimage thusfar. Bunyan's message is that proper fear is the beginning of wisdom, and through repetition, he hopes that his readers internalize it. Although aspects of the pilgrimage are frightening and the stakes are quite high; those who fail to recognize the gravity of the journey to salvation (and are thus unafraid) are foolish and will not succeed.

It is important to note the miraculous appearance of the inn when the pilgrims need to rest. Christiana literally wishes it into existence. This episode shows how much Christiana has learned over the course of her pilgrimage. At the Beautiful Palace, Great-Heart leaves them because they did not ask for the help they needed. Now, Christiana has anticipated the needs of their group and asks God, who provides for his people, to intervene. In the same way that God always delivered Christian from his prisons (although there is a decided absence of that theme in part II), God delivers Christiana and her company from strife.

The pilgrims' stay at Gaius’s Inn is generally instructive. Similar to their experience at the Beautiful Palace, a lot of learning happens as the pilgrims eat and drink in the innkeeper's company. Gaius offers much advice to Christiana, including the recommendation that her sons get married and stay on the earth to propagate the community of the faithful (285). This advice foreshadows what will happen at the end of the book.

Through the character of Gaius, Bunyan offers a justification of why women can be saved. Hawkes notes that the arguments Gaius offers are drawn from seventeenth-century feminist texts (285). Their inclusion in the elect is based, at least in this account, on the faithful nature and prominent role of women in the New Testament, like the Virgin Mary, who bore the son of God, and Mary Magdalene, who anointed his feet and was present at his crucifixion. This scriptural account of their righteousness means, at least for Gaius, that the bestowal of grace and the designation of election can be extended to women as well. This should not be anachronistically read as some sort of support for female liberation; other points mentioned in the text highlight, among other things, the maternal role of women and their designation as the weaker sex.

Gaius, like Prudence before, engages the boys in a series of questions and riddles. Their answers indicate an increased sensitivity to the meaning of things and a newfound maturity. All of the boys are progressing to adulthood as surely as they are journeying towards heaven, as their statements and actions demonstrate.

Mr. Great-Heart, in his mission to kill the giant, Slay-Good, continues to violently strike down any opponents to the true church. From this particular giant, he also rescues Feeble-Mind, who certainly cannot get to heaven on his own without the help of the church. Bunyan illustrates the compassion and inclusivity of the church in Mr. Great-Heart’s refusal to leave Feeble-Mind behind as they continue on their way to the Celestial City.