The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come by John Bunyan (published February, 1678) is a Christian allegory. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of English literature, has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been out of print.
Bunyan began the work while in the Bedfordshire
for violations of the Conventicle Act
, which prohibited the holding of religious services outside the auspices of the established Church of England
. Early Bunyan scholars like John Brown
believed The Pilgrim's Progress
was begun in Bunyan's second shorter imprisonment for six months in 1675, but more recent scholars like Roger Sharrock believe that it was begun during Bunyan's initial, more lengthy imprisonment from 1660-1672 right after he had written his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
The English text comprises 108,260 words and is divided into two parts, each reading as a continuous narrative with no chapter divisions. After the first edition of the first part in 1678, an expanded edition, with additions written after Bunyan was freed, appeared in 1679. The Second Part appeared in 1684. There were eleven editions of the first part in John Bunyan's lifetime, published in successive years from 1678 to 1685 and in 1688, and there were two editions of the second part, published in 1684 and 1686.
Christian, an everyman
character, is the protagonist of the allegory, which centers itself in his journey from his hometown, the "City of Destruction" ("this world"), to the "Celestial City" ("that which is to come": Heaven
) atop Mt. Zion. Christian finds himself weighed down by a great burden (sin
), which comes from his reading a book (the Bible
). This burden, which would cause him to sink into Tophet
), is Christian's acute, immediate concern that impels him to the crisis of what to do for deliverance. Evangelist meets Christian as he is walking out in the fields and directs him to the "Wicket Gate" for deliverance. Since Christian cannot see the "Wicket Gate" in the distance, Evangelist directs him to go to a "shining light," which Christian thinks he sees. Christian leaves his home, his wife, and children to save himself when his attempt to persuade them to go with him fails.
On his way to the Wicket Gate, Christian is diverted by Mr. Worldly Wiseman into seeking deliverance from his burden through the Law, supposedly with the help of a Mr. Legality and his son Civility in the village of Morality, rather than through Christ, allegorically by way of the Wicket Gate. Evangelist meets the wayward Christian where he has stopped before a life-threatening mountain, Mount Sinai, on the way to Legality's home. Evangelist shows Christian that he had sinned by turning out of his way, but he assures him that he will be welcomed at the Wicket Gate if he should turn around and go there, which Christian does.
At the Wicket Gate begins the "straight and narrow" King's Highway, and Christian is directed onto it by the gatekeeper Good Will. In the Second Part, Good-will is shown to be Jesus himself. To Christian's query about relief from his burden, Good Will directs him forward to "the place of deliverance."
Christian makes his way from there to the House of the Interpreter, where he is shown pictures and tableaux that portray or dramatize aspects of the Christian faith and life. Roger Sharrock denotes them "emblems."
From the House of the Interpreter, Christian finally reaches the "place of deliverance" (allegorically, the cross of Calvary and the open sepulcher of Christ), where the "straps" that bound Christian's burden to him break, and it rolls away into the open sepulcher. This event happens relatively early in the narrative: the immediate need of Christian at the beginning of the story being quickly remedied. After Christian is relieved of his burden, he is greeted by three shining ones, who give him the greeting of peace, new garments, and a scroll as a passport into the Celestial City—these are allegorical figures indicative of Christian Baptism.
Atop the Hill of Difficulty, Christian makes his first stop for the night at the House Beautiful, which is an allegory of the local Christian congregation. Christian spends three days here, and leaves clothed with armour (Eph. 6:11-18), which stands him in good stead in his battle against Apollyon in the Valley of Humiliation. This battle lasts "over half a day" until Christian manages to wound Apollyon with his two-edged sword(Heb. 4:12). "And with that Apollyon spread his dragon wings and sped away."
As night falls Christian enters the Valley of the Shadow of Death. When he is in the middle of the valley amidst the gloom and terror he hears the words of the Twenty-third Psalm, spoken possibly by his friend Faithful:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4.)
As he leaves this valley the sun rises on a new day.
Just outside the Valley of the Shadow of Death he meets Faithful, also a former resident of the City of Destruction, who accompanies him to Vanity Fair, where both are arrested and detained because of their disdain for the wares and business of the fair. Faithful is put on trial, and executed as a martyr. Hopeful, a resident of Vanity, takes Faithful's place to be Christian's companion for the rest of the way.
Along a rough stretch of road, Christian and Hopeful leave the highway to travel on the easier By-Path Meadow, where a rainstorm forces them to spend the night. In the morning they are captured by Giant Despair, who takes them to his Doubting Castle, where they are imprisoned, beaten and starved. The giant wants them to commit suicide, but they endure the ordeal until Christian realizes that a key he has, called Promise, will open all the doors and gates of Doubting Castle. Using the key, they escape.
The Delectable Mountains form the next stage of Christian and Hopeful's journey, where the shepherds show them some of the wonders of the place also known as "Immanuel's Land".
On the way, Christian and Hopeful meet a lad named Ignorance, who has the vain hope of entering the Celestial City even though he believes in work's righteousness. A ferryman named Vain Hope ferries Ignorance across the River of Death, only for Ignorance to be turned away from the gates of Celestial City and cast into hell.
Christian and Hopeful make it through the dangerous Enchanted Ground into the Land of Beulah, where they ready themselves to cross the River of Death on foot to Mount Zion and the Celestial City. Christian has a rough time of it, but Hopeful helps him over; and they are welcomed into the Celestial City.
The Second Part of The Pilgrim's Progress
presents the pilgrimage of Christian's wife, Christiana; their sons; and the maiden, Mercy. They visit the same stopping places that Christian visited, with the addition of Gaius' Inn between the Valley of the Shadow of Death and Vanity Fair; but they take a longer time in order to accommodate marriage and childbirth
for the four sons and their wives. The hero
of the story is Greatheart, the servant of the Interpreter, who is a pilgrim's guide to the Celestial City. He kills four giants
and participates in the slaying of a monster that terrorizes the city of Vanity
The passage of years in this second pilgrimage better allegorizes the journey of the Christian life. By using heroines, Bunyan, in the Second Part, illustrates the idea that women as well as men can be brave pilgrims.
Alexander M. Witherspoon, professor of English at Yale University, writes in a prefatory essay:
Part II, which appeared in 1684, is much more than a mere sequel to or repetition of the earlier volume. It clarifies and reinforces and justifies the story of Part I. The beam of Bunyan's spotlight is broadened to include Christian's family and other, men, women, and children; the incidents and accidents of everyday life are more numerous, the joys of the pilgrimage tend to outweigh the hardships; and to the faith and hope of Part I is added in abundant measure that greatest of virtues, charity. The two parts of The Pilgrim's Progress in reality constitute a whole, and the whole is, without doubt, the most influential religious book ever written in the English language.
This is exemplified by the frailness of the pilgrims of the Second Part in contrast to those of the First: women, children, and physically and mentally challenged individuals. When Christiana's party leaves Gaius's Inn and Mr. Feeblemind lingers in order to be left behind he is encouraged to accompany the party by Greatheart:
But brother ... I have it in commission, to comfort the feeble-minded, and to support the weak. You must needs go along with us; we will wait for you, we will lend you our help, we will deny ourselves of some things, both opinionative and practical, for your sake; we will not enter into doubtful disputations before you, we will be made all things to you, rather than you shall be left behind.
When the pilgrims end up in the Land of Beulah, they cross over the River of Death by appointment. As a matter of importance to Christians of Bunyan's persuasion reflected in the narrative of The Pilgrim's Progress, the last words of the pilgrims as they cross over the river are recorded. The four sons of Christian and their families do not cross, but remain for the support of the church in that place.
- Main characters are in capital letters.
- CHRISTIAN, whose name was Graceless at some time before, the protagonist in the First Part, whose journey to the Celestial City is the plot of the story.
- EVANGELIST, the religious man who puts Christian on the path to the Celestial City. He also shows Christian a book, which readers assume to be the Bible.
- Obstinate, one of the two residents of the City of Destruction who run after Christian when Christian first sets out, in order to bring him back.
- Pliable, the other of the two, who goes with Christian until both of them fall into the Slough of Despond. Pliable escapes from the slough and returns home.
- Help, Christian's rescuer from the Slough of Despond.
- MR. WORLDLY WISEMAN, a resident of a place called Carnal Policy, who persuades Christian go out of his way to be helped by a Mr. Legality and then move to the City of Morality.
- GOODWILL, the keeper of the Wicket Gate through which one enters the "straight and narrow way" (also referred to as "the King's Highway") to the Celestial City. In the Second Part we find that this character is none other than Jesus Christ Himself.
- Beelzebub, literally "Lord of the Flies", is one of the devil's companion archdevils who has erected a fort near the Wicket Gate from which he and his companions can shoot arrows at those who are about to enter the Wicket Gate. He is also the Lord of Vanity Fair. Christian calls him "captain" of the fiend Apollyon.
- THE INTERPRETER, the one who has his House along the way as a rest stop for travellers to check in to see pictures and dioramas to teach them the right way to live the Christian life. He has been identified as the Holy Spirit. He also appears in the Second Part.
- Shining Ones, the messengers and servants of "the Lord of the Hill", God. They are obviously the holy angels.
- Formalist, one of two travellers on the King's Highway, who do not come in by the Wicket Gate, but climb over the wall that encloses it, at least from the hill and sepulcre up to the Hill Difficulty. He and his companion Hypocrisy come from the land of Vainglory. He takes one of the two bypaths that avoid the Hill Difficulty, but is lost.
- Hypocrisy, the companion of Formalist. He takes the other of the two bypaths and is also lost.
- Timorous, one of two who try to persuade Christian to go back for fear of the chained lions near the House Beautiful. He is a relative of Mrs. Timorous of the Second Part. His companion is
- Watchful, the porter of the House Beautiful. He also appears in the Second Part and receives "a gold angel" coin from Christiana for his kindness and service to her and her companions. "Watchful" is also the name of one of the Delectable Mountains' shepherds.
- Discretion, one of the maids of the House Beautiful, who decides to allow Christian to stay there.
- Prudence, another of the House Beautiful maidens. She appears in the Second Part.
- Piety, another of the House Beautiful maidens. She appears in the Second Part.
- Charity, another of the House Beautiful maidens. She appears in the Second Part.
- APOLLYON, literally "Destroyer"; the lord of the City of Destruction and one of the devil's companion archdevils, who tries to force Christian to return to his domain and service. His battle with Christian takes place in the Valley of Humiliation, just below the House Beautiful. He appears as a dragonlike creature with scales and bats' wings. He takes darts from his body to throw at his opponents.
- FAITHFUL, Christian's friend from the City of Destruction, who is also going on pilgrimage. Christian meets him just after getting through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
- Wanton, a temptress who tries to get Faithful to leave his journey to the Celestial City. She may be the popular resident of the City of Destruction, Madam Wanton, who hosted a house party for friends of Mrs. Timorous.
- Adam the First, "the old man" (representing carnality) who tries to persuade Faithful to leave his journey and come live with his 3 daughters: the Lust of the flesh, the Lust of the eyes, and the Pride of life.
- Moses, the severe, violent avenger (representing the Law, which knows no mercy) who tries to kill Faithful for his momentary weakness in wanting to go with Adam the First out of the way.
- Talkative, a hypocrite known to Christian from the City of Destruction, who lived on Prating Row. He talks fervently of religion, but has no evident works as a result of true salvation.
- Lord Hate-good, the judge who tries Faithful in Vanity Fair.
- Envy, the first witness against Faithful.
- Superstition, the second witness against Faithful.
- pickthank, the third witness against Faithful.
- HOPEFUL, the resident of Vanity Fair, who takes Faithful's place as Christian's fellow traveller. The character HOPEFUL poses an inconsistency in that there is a necessity imposed on the pilgrims that they enter the "King's Highway" by the Wicket Gate. HOPEFUL did not; however, of him we read: "... one died to bear testimony to the truth, and another rises out of his ashes to be a companion with Christian in his pilgrimage". HOPEFUL assumes FAITHFUL'S place by God's design. Theologically and allegorically it would follow in that "faith" is trust in God as far as things present are concerned, and "hope", biblically the same as "faith", is trust in God as far as things of the future are concerned. HOPEFUL would follow FAITHFUL. The other factor is Vanity Fair's location right on the straight and narrow way. IGNORANCE, in contrast to HOPEFUL, came from the Country of Conceit, that connected to the "King's Highway" by means of a crooked lane. IGNORANCE was told by CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL that he should have entered the highway through the Wicket Gate.
- Mr. By-Ends, a hypocritical pilgrim who perishes in the Hill Lucre silver mine with three of his friends. A "by-end" is a pursuit that is achieved indirectly. In the case of By-Ends and his companions, it is pursuing financial gain through religion.
- Demas, a deceiver, who beckons to pilgrims at the Hill Lucre to come and join in the supposed silver mining going on in it.
- GIANT DESPAIR, the owner of Doubting Castle, where Christians are imprisoned and murdered. He is slain by GREAT-HEART in the Second Part.
- Giantess Diffidence, Despair's wife. She is slain by OLD HONEST in the Second Part.
- Knowledge, one of the shepherds of the Delectable Mountains.
- Experience, another of the Delectable Mountains shepherds.
- Watchful, another of the Delectable Mountains shepherds.
- Sincere, another of the Delectable Mountains shepherds.
- IGNORANCE, "a brisk young lad", who joins the "King's Highway" by way of the "crooked lane" that comes from his native country, called "Conceit." He follows Christian and Hopeful and on two occasions talks with them. He believes that he will be received into the Celestial City because of his doing good works in accordance with God's will. Jesus Christ is for him only an example not a Savior. Christian and Hopeful try to set him right, but they fail. He gets a ferryman, Vain-Hope, to ferry him across the River of Death rather than cross it on foot as one is supposed to do. When he gets to the gates of the Celestial City, he is asked for a "certificate" needed for entry, which he does not have. The King, then, orders that he be bound and cast into hell.
- The Flatterer, a deceiver who leads Christian and Hopeful out of their way, when they fail to look at the roadmap given them by the Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains.
- Atheist, a mocker of CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL, who goes the opposite way on the "King's Highway" because he boasts that he knows that God and the Celestial City do not exist.
- Mr. Sagacity, a guest narrator who meets Bunyan himself in his new dream and recounts the events of the Second Part up to the arrival at the Wicket Gate.
- CHRISTIANA, wife of CHRISTIAN, who leads her four sons and neighbour MERCY on pilgrimage.
- MATTHEW, CHRISTIAN and CHRISTIANA's eldest son, who marries MERCY.
- SAMUEL, second eldest son, who marries Grace, Mr. Mnason's daughter.
- JOSEPH, third eldest son, who marries Martha, Mr. Mnason's daughter.
- JAMES, youngest son, who marries Phoebe, Gaius's daughter.
- MERCY, CHRISTIANA's neighbour, who goes with her on pilgrimage and marries MATTHEW.
- Mrs. Timorous, relative of the Timorous of the First Part, who comes with MERCY to see CHRISTIANA before she sets out on pilgrimage.
- Ill-favoured Ones, two evil characters CHRISTIANA sees in her dream, whom she and MERCY actually encounter when they leave the Wicket Gate.
- Innocent, a young serving maid of the INTERPRETER, who answers the door of the house when Christiana and her companions arrive; and who conducts them to the garden bath, which signifies Christian baptism.
- MR. GREAT-HEART, the guide and body-guard sent by the INTERPRETER with CHRISTIANA and her companions from his house to their journey's end. He proves to be one of the main protagonists in the Second Part.
- Giant Grim, who "backs the [chained] lions" near the House Beautiful, slain by GREAT-HEART. He is also known as Bloody-man.
- Humble-Mind, one of the maidens of the House Beautiful, who makes her appearance in the Second Part.
- Mr. Brisk, a suitor of MERCY's, who gives up courting her when he finds out that she makes clothing only to give away to the poor.
- Mr. Skill, the physician called to the House Beautiful to cure Matthew of his illness, which is caused by eating the apples of Beelzebub.
- Giant Maul, a giant that GREAT-HEART kills as the pilgrims leave the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
- OLD HONEST, a pilgrim that joins them, a welcome companion to GREAT-HEART.
- Mr. Fearing, a pilgrim whom GREAT-HEART had "conducted" to the Celestial City in an earlier pilgrimage. Noted for his timidness. He is Mr. Feeble-Mind's uncle.
- Gaius, an innkeeper with whom the pilgrim's stay for some years after they leave the Valley of the Shadow of Death. He gives his daughter Phebe to JAMES in marriage. The lodging fee for his inn is paid by the Good Samaritan.
- Giant Slay-Good, a giant that enlists the help of evil-doers on the King's Highway to abduct, murder, and consume pilgrims.
- Mr. Feeble-Mind, rescued from Slay-Good by Mr. Great-Heart, who joins Christiana's company of pilgrims.
- Phoebe, Gaius's daughter, who marries JAMES.
- Mr. Ready-to-Halt, a pilgrim who meets CHRISTIANA's train of pilgrims at Gaius's door, and becomes the companion of Mr. Feeble-mind, to whom he gives one of his crutches.
- Mr. Mnason, a resident of the town of Vanity, who puts up the pilgrims for a time, and gives his daughters Grace and Martha in marriage to SAMUEL and JOSEPH respectively.
- Grace, Mnason's daughter, who marries SAMUEL.
- Martha, Mnason's daughter, who marries JOSEPH.
- Mr. Despondency, a rescued prisoner from Doubting Castle.
- Much-Afraid, his daughter.
- Mr. VALIANT-FOR-TRUTH, a pilgrim they find all bloody, with his sword in his hand, after leaving the Delectable Mountains.
- Mr. Stand-Fast, a pilgrim found while praying for deliverance from Madame Bubble.
- Madame Bubble, a witch whose enchantments made the Enchanted Ground enchanted. She is the adulterous woman mentioned in the Biblical Book of Proverbs.
Places in The Pilgrim's Progress
- City of Destruction, Christian's home, representative of the world (cf. Isaiah 19:18)
- Slough of Despond, the miry swamp on the way to the Wicket Gate; one of the hazards of the journey to the Celestial City. In the First Part, Christian falling into it, sinks further under the weight of his sins (his burden) and his sense of their guilt.
- Mount Sinai, a frightening mountain near the Village of Morality that threatens all who would go there.
- Wicket Gate, the entry point of the straight and narrow way to the Celestial City. Pilgrims are required to enter the way by way of the Wicket Gate.
- House of the Interpreter, a type of spiritual museum to guide the pilgrims to the Celestial City.
- Cross and Sepulchre, emblematic of Calvary and the tomb of Christ.
- Hill Difficulty, both the hill and the road up is called "Difficulty"; it is flanked by two treacherous byways "Danger" and "Destruction." There are three choices: CHRISTIAN takes "Difficulty" (the right way), and Formalist and Hypocrisy take the two other ways, which prove to be fatal dead ends.
- House Beautiful, a palace that serves as a rest stop for pilgrims to the Celestial City. It apparently sits atop the Hill Difficulty. From the House Beautiful one can see forward to the Delectable Mountains. It represents the Christian congregation, and Bunyan takes its name from a gate of the Jerusalem temple (Acts 3:2, 10).
- Valley of Humiliation, the valley on the other side of the Hill Difficulty, going down into which is said to be extremely slippery by the House Beautiful's damsel Prudence. It is where Christian meets Apollyon in the place known as "Forgetful Green." This valley had been a delight to the "Lord of the Hill", Jesus Christ, in his "state of humiliation."
- Valley of the Shadow of Death, a treacherous valley with a quick sand bog on one side and a deep chasm/ditch on the other side of the King's Highway going through it (cf. Psalm 23:4).
- Gaius's inn, a rest stop in the Second Part
- Vanity and Vanity Fair, a city through which the King's Highway passes and the yearlong fair that is held there.
- Plain Ease, a pleasant area traversed by the pilgrims.
- Hill Lucre, location of a reputed silver mine that proves to be the place where By-Ends and his companions are lost.
- The Pillar of Salt, which was Lot's wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. The pilgrim's note that its location near the Hill Lucre is a fitting warning to those who are tempted by Demas to go into the Lucre silver mine.
- River of God or River of the Water of Life, a place of solace for the pilgrims. It flows through a meadow, green all year long and filled with lush fruit trees. In the Second Part the Good Shepherd is found there to whom Christiana's grandchildren are entrusted.
- By-Path Meadow, the place leading to the grounds of Doubting Castle.
- Doubting Castle, the home of Giant Despair and his wife; only one key could open it, the key Promise.
- The Delectable Mountains, known as "Immanuel's Land." Lush country from whose heights one can see many delights and curiosities. It is inhabited by sheep and their shepherds, and from Mount Clear one can see the Celestial City.
- The Enchanted Ground, an area through which the King's Highway passes that has air that makes pilgrims want to stop to sleep. If one goes to sleep in this place, one never wakes up.
- The Land of Beulah, a lush garden area just this side of the River of Death.
- The River of Death, the dreadful river that surrounds Mount Zion, deeper or shallower depending on the faith of the one traversing it.
- The Celestial City, the "Desired Country" of pilgrims, heaven, the dwelling place of the "Lord of the Hill", God. It is situated on Mount Zion.
Influence on later culture
The allegory of this book has antecedents in a large number of Christian devotional works that speak of the soul's path to Heaven, from the Lyke-Wake Dirge forward. Bunyan's allegory stands out above his predecessors because of his simple and effective, if somewhat naïve, prose style, steeped in Biblical texts and cadences. He confesses his own naïveté in the verse prologue to the book:
- ". . . I did not think
To shew to all the World my Pen and Ink
In such a mode; I only thought to make
I knew not what: nor did I undertake
Thereby to please my Neighbour; no not I;
I did it mine own self to gratifie."
Modern day influences upon Christian literature can be clearly seen, most popular among them is "The House That Wisdom Built" by Rev. Kyle Hoover (Anomalos 2008). This work has been called "a modern-day Pilgrim's Progress."
John Bunyan himself wrote a popular hymn that encourages a hearer to become a pilgrim-like Christian: All Who Would Valiant Be.
Because of the widespread longtime popularity of "The Pilgrim's Progress", Christian's hazards — whether originally from Bunyan or borrowed by him from the Bible — the "Slough of Despond", the "Hill Difficulty", "Valley of the Shadow of Death", "Doubting Castle", and the "Enchanted Ground", his temptations (the wares of "Vanity Fair" and the pleasantness of "By-Path Meadow"), his foes ("Apollyon" and "Giant Despair"), and the helpful stopping places he visits (the "House of the Interpreter", the "House Beautiful", the "Delectable Mountains", and the "Land of Beulah") have become commonly used phrases proverbial in English. For example, "One has one's own Slough of Despond to trudge through."
The Pilgrim's Progress' explicitly Protestant theology also made it much more popular than its predecessors. Finally, Bunyan's gifts and plain style breathe life into the abstractions of the anthropomorphized temptations and abstractions that Christian encounters and with whom he converses on his course to Heaven. Samuel Johnson said that "this is the great merit of the book, that the most cultivated man cannot find anything to praise more highly, and the child knows nothing more amusing." Three years after its publication (1681), it was reprinted in colonial America, and was widely read in the Puritan colonies. It went through eleven editions during the remainder of Bunyan's lifetime (1678-1688).
Foreign language versions
Beginning in the 1850s, illustrated versions of the The Pilgrim's Progress
in Chinese were printed in Hong Kong
and widely distributed by Protestant missionaries. Hong Xiuquan
, the quasi-Christian leader of the Taiping Rebellion
, declared that the book was his favorite reading.
The "Third Part"
The Third Part of the Pilgrim's Progress
was written by an anonymous author; and beginning in 1693 it was published with Bunyan's authentic two parts. It kept being republished with Bunyan's work until 1852. It presented the pilgrimage of Tender-Conscience and his companions.
The book was the basis of an opera by Ralph Vaughan Williams, premiered in 1951; see The Pilgrim's Progress (opera). It was also the basis of a condensed radio adaptation starring John Gielgud, including, as background music, several excerpts from Vaughan Williams's orchestral works. This radio version, originally presented in 1942, was newly recorded by Hyperion Records in 1990, in a performance conducted by Matthew Best. It again starred Gielgud, and featured Richard Pasco and Ursula Howells.
English composer Ernest Austin set the whole story as a huge narrative tone poem for solo organ, with optional 6-part choir and narrator, lasting approximately 2½ hours.
References in literature
Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist (1838) is subtitled 'The Parish Boy's Progress'.
In 1847 William Makepeace Thackeray entitled his work Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero with the Vanity Fair of Pilgrim's Progress in mind.
In Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Huckleberry Finn mentions The Pilgrim's Progress as he describes the works of literature in the Grangerfords' library. Twain uses this to satirize the Protestant southern aristocracy.
E. E. Cummings also makes numerous references to it in his prose work, The Enormous Room.
"The Celestial Rail-road", a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, recreates Christian's journey in Hawthorne's time. Progressive thinkers have replaced the footpath by a railroad, and pilgrims may now travel under steam power. The journey is considerably faster, but somewhat more questionable...
John Buchan was an admirer of Bunyan, and Pilgrim's Progress features significantly in his third Richard Hannay novel, Mr Standfast, which also takes its title from one of Bunyan's characters.
Alan Moore in his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen enlists The Pilgrim's Progress protagonist, Christian, as a member of the earliest version of this group, Prospero's Men. This group disbanded in 1690 after Christian found his "heavenly country" and departed this world.
In Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, whose protagonist Jo reads it at the outset of the novel, and tries to follow the good example of Bunyan's Christian.
C. S. Lewis wrote a book inspired by The Pilgrim's Progress called The Pilgrim's Regress, in which a character named John follows a vision to escape from The Landlord, a less friendly version of The Owner in Pilgrim's Regress. It is an allegory of C. S. Lewis' own journey from a religious childhood to a pagan adulthood in which he rediscovers his Christian God.
Henry Williamson's The Patriot's Progress references the title of The Pilgrim's Progress and the symbolic nature of John Bunyan's work. The protagonist of the semi-autobiographical novel is John Bullock, the quintessential English soldier during World War I.
The character of Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-5: The Children's Crusade, by Kurt Vonnegut, is a clear homage to a similar journey to enlightenment experienced by Christian, although Billy's is a journey which leads him to an existential acceptance of life and of a fatalist human condition. Vonnegut's parallel to The Pilgrim's Progress is deliberate and evident in Billy's surname.
In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë borrows the mythic quest-plot, but not the devout substance, of The Pilgrim's Progress. Brontë ends Jane Eyre with a half-ironic allusion to The Pilgrim's Progress.
A classic science fiction fan novelette, The Enchanted Duplicator by Walt Willis and Bob Shaw, is explicitly modeled on The Pilgrim's Progress; it has been repeatedly reprinted over the decades since its first appearance in 1954: in professional publications, in fanzines and as a monograph.
Enid Blyton wrote "The Land of Far Beyond" as a children's version of Pilgrim's Progress. First published in 1942 by Methuen.
The Pilgrim's Progress in films, television, and video games
Director Todd Fietkau is making a version of Pilgrim's Progress
, scheduled to be released in 2009.
A children's animation series titled The Pilgrim's Progress is set to be produced by Cliff McDowell, scheduled to be released in Fall 2009.
The novel was made into a film, Pilgrim's Progress, in 1912. Another film version was made in 1977 by Ken Anderson films, in which Liam Neeson played the role of Evangelist and other smaller roles like the crucified Christ. Maurice O'Callaghan played Mr. Worldly Wiseman and other "bad" characters that met Christian in his journey. A sequel Christiana followed in 1979. More recently, a version by Danny Carrales was produced in 2008.
In 1985 Yorkshire Television produced a 129-minute 9-part serial presentation of The Pilgrim's Progress with animated stills by Alan Parry and narrated by Paul Copley entitled Dangerous Journey.
In 1950 an hour-long animated version was made by Baptista Films. This version was edited down to 35 minutes and re-released with new music in 1978. As of 2007 the original version is difficult to find, but the 1978 has been released on both VHS and DVD.
A 2006 computer animation version was made, directed and narrated by Scott Cawthon.
The novel is frequently alluded to in the video game Deus Ex: Invisible War. Saman, a significant character, utilizes its allegories to create purpose in his speech; "Young enemy, thy name is Pliable... you bend your ear to the Worldly Wiseman, to continue the archaic analogy.". If the player makes the choice to side with the Templar faction at the end of the game, after the cinematic, the quote appears, taken from both the novel and Proverbs 21:16 - "He that wandereth out of the way of understanding, shall remain in the congregation of the dead."
Curiously, the player's actions towards the Templar faction are not entirely unlike the struggle of Christian throughout the Pilgrim's Progress.
- James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1987, ISBN 0-7188-2164-5
- Oxford at the Clarendon Press, edited by James Wharey and Roger Sharrock, providing a critical edition of all 13 editions of both parts from the author's lifetime, 1960, ISBN 0-19-811802-3
- Oxford World's Classics edition, edited by W.R. Owens, Oxford, 2003, ISBN-13: ISBN 978-0-19-280361-0
- Penguin Books, London, 1965, ISBN 0-14-043004-0
- Pocket Books, New York, 1957
- The Children's Pilgrim's Progress. The story taken from the work by John Bunyan. New York: Sheldon and Company, 1866.
- John Bunyan's Dream Story: the Pilgrim's Progress retold for children and adapted to school reading by James Baldwin. New York: American Book Co., 1913.
- Pilgrim's Progress in Today's English - as retold by James H. Thomas (ISBN-13: ) - Moody Publishers, 1971.
- The Pilgrim's Progress in Words of One Syllable by Mary Godolphin. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1869.
- Pilgrim's Progress retold and shortened for modern readers by Mary Godolphin (1884). Drawings by Robert Lawson. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1939. [a newly illustrated edition of the retelling by Mary Godolphin]
- The Pilgrim's Progress - A 21st Century Re-telling of the John Bunyan Classic - Dry Ice Publishing, 2008 directed by Dany Carrales http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1000768/