The Pilgrim’s Progress – Part II: The Fourth Stage, the Fifth Stage

Summary
Christiana, her children, and Mercy stop to eat and drink.
When they continue their travels, Christiana forgets her bottle
of liquor and returns to get it. Mercy remarks that this is the
very spot where Christian lost his certificate. Great-heart explains
that the danger of the area is sleepy forgetfulness, which all pilgrims
must be on guard against.
They arrive at the place where Christian saw the lions.
The lions roar fiercely, and the pilgrims fear them. Great-heart
steps in front to ward them off. He gently mocks James, the youngest
son, for being afraid. The lions’ master, Grim, appears. The master
tells the pilgrims that they may not pass through the area. Great-heart argues
that the path is a king’s road and open to all. Drawing his sword,
Great-heart kills Grim. The lions are chained up so they cannot
harm the pilgrims, so Christiana and her group pass them by.
Christiana’s group arrives at the porter’s lodge of the
Palace Beautiful. The porter admits them and expresses his admiration
for Christiana’s husband. The mistresses of the house, Prudence,
Charity, and Piety, are delighted to see them arrive. The pilgrims
are fed and put to bed. The next morning, Christiana tells Mercy
that Mercy laughed in her sleep and says she must have had a good dream.
Mercy describes her dream of being alone and bemoaning her hard
heart, surrounded by people who scoffed at her. Then in the dream
a winged figure came toward her, clothed her in gorgeous garments,
and adorned her with earrings and a crown. Christiana says Mercy
was right to laugh, receiving such bounty. She adds that dreams
are often signs from God.
Prudence talks with Christiana’s sons, James, Joseph,
Samuel, and Matthew. She quizzes them in Christian doctrine and
asks them questions about the Holy Ghost, the nature of hell, and
the value of the Bible. The sons all appear well versed in their
faith. Prudence approves and urges them to always listen to their
mother, because Christiana will teach them everything she knows.
After a week, a suitor named Mr. Brisk begins paying court
to Mercy. He appears interested in marrying her. However, one day Mr.
Brisk arrives to find Mercy making clothes for the poor. Disappointed,
he never returns to see her. Mercy reveals that many suitors in
the past have stopped courting her because of her religious enthusiasm
and acknowledges she is prepared to never marry if necessary. She
recalls that her sister married a man who drove her out of the house
for her religious activities.
Matthew becomes ill from the fruit he stole earlier from
the devil’s garden and suffers from terrible cramps in his bowels.
A doctor, Skill, arrives and prepares medicine that Matthew initially rejects.
His mother puts some on her tongue and persuades Matthew it is delicious.
Matthew takes it and recovers. Christiana asks what the amazing
universal pill is, and Skill tells her it is a special medicine
just for them and gives her more for later use.
After a month in the House Beautiful, it is time for Christiana and
her group to leave. Great-heart arrives at the door to accompany
them again. Christian gives the porter a tip of a golden angel, a
coin of considerable value. Along their way, the group sees a pillar noting
where Christian slipped on his way down. A bit farther on, they
find a monument commemorating Christian’s victory over Apollyon.
As they proceed into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, darkness
surrounds them and snares tangle their feet.
A giant named Maul appears. He speaks reproachfully to
Great-heart, telling him that Great-heart has been forbidden many
times from guiding pilgrims through this region and accuses Great-heart of
kidnapping Christiana and the others. Great-heart and Maul fight
for over an hour, and Great-heart finally cuts off the giant’s head.
The pilgrims rejoice.
Analysis
Unlike her husband, Christiana reflects on the past and
looks forward to the future throughout her pilgrimage. Christian
hardly ever looked back on his previous life in the City of Destruction.
His focus was on the straightforward path through the present. Yet
Christiana follows a path that constantly refers back to the past
and ahead to the future. Christiana confronts the past as an important
part of her pilgrimage when she sees the pillar stating where Christian
slipped on his way into the Valley of Humiliation and finds the
monument erected where he fought Apollyon. She follows in her husband’s footsteps,
so she has a lot to reflect on and look forward to when coming across
some of Christian’s landmarks. When Mercy dreams of future glory
that Christiana interprets as a sign of happiness to come, she confronts
the future too. Christiana moves forward in her pilgrimage by jumping
sometimes to the past and to the future.
Bunyan does not emphasize the presence of Christiana’s
sons until they discuss Christian doctrine with Prudence in the
Palace Beautiful. Earlier the sons were vague presences, and the
name of only one is mentioned, James. However, in the Palace Beautiful
the narrator refers to them all by name. They are assumed to have
more or less the same personality. When Christiana’s sons are singled
out for special attention, their individual characters have a moral
message behind them. For example, Matthew is the only one who gets sick
from the stolen fruit, even though his brothers ate it too. Because
Matthew is the oldest, his sickness means more from a moral perspective.
As the oldest, he should have warned his younger siblings away from
fruit, which represents sin. Therefore it makes sense that he is
the one who most deserves punishment.
The abundance of food and drink mentioned in these chapters demonstrates
the importance of everyday bodily activities in Part II. While Christian’s
pilgrimage focused on the soul, referring to bodily danger as metaphors
for threats to the soul, his wife’s pilgrimage focuses on body and
soul together. For example, while Christian forgets his certificate
and must return for it, his wife returns to look for her bottle
of alcohol. The first mishap has only a spiritual meaning, while
the second is physical. Similarly, when Matthew falls prey to the
devil after becoming ill from the stolen fruit, Christiana does not
summon a spiritual guide to cure him but instead seeks a physician
whose medicine heals both body and soul. The notion of what a human
is, in Part II, embraces both the spirit and the flesh.
Through the character, Maul, Bunyan may offer a glimpse
of the skepticism toward absolute notions of good and evil that
will blossom in England in the coming century. As a character, Maul
adds moral complexity because he considers himself a good monster, unlike
the other monsters encountered by Christiana and Christian, such
as Giant Despair and Apollyon. He is obviously an evil being, since
a giant would be considered one in an allegory. The pilgrims do
not doubt for a second that Maul must be slain, and they rejoice when
he dies. But nevertheless, Maul is portrayed as a character that considers
himself good and only protecting his master’s kingdom. Therefore
he speaks as if Great-heart breaks the law, not him. Maul thinks
Great-heart has kidnapped the group of pilgrims in his company and
tells Great-heart he must be punished. While the pilgrims and Great-heart
disagree, Bunyan makes an interesting point when showing Maul appearing
to believe that he himself is good, while Great-heart is wicked.