Tag Archives: John Bunyan

Heavy Laden

Are these daily literary connection posts feeling burdensome?  That’s what I was going for, all in order to lead up to this last one.


You remember them from Pilgrim’s Progress, right? Now I realize not every single use of the word burden is a direct reference to Bunyan’s work.  But it wasn’t just the word.  It was the picture of Bigger lugging the trunk containing Mary’s body and the freedom he experienced when discovering a way to unload it.  He later uses the word in his description.

. . . now that he had killed Mary he felt a lessening of tension in his muscles; he had shed an invisible burden he had long carried.

His mother also has a burden, a “heavy and delicately balanced” one that she “did not want to assume by disturbing it one whit.”

Maybe I’ve just felt too great of a burden in finding literary connections to assume that Richard Wright was harkening back to Paul, er I mean John Bunyan (although, do you think there are any connections between Bigger, and the north’s massive lumberjack?)  I think they’re legit, though.  Were there others?

I don’t want you to feel burdened to answer, but . . .


Posted by on September 21, 2013 in Native Son, Pilgrim's Progress


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I spy Bunyan

I believe that Beecher Stowe must have been a fan of Bunyan. So far I’ve noticed references to Bunyan in three different chapters of Uncle Tom’s Cabin: VIII, XI, and XV.

Are there similarities between PP and UTC?

Christian was trying to get to the Celestial City.  Eliza, George, and Harry are trying to get to Canada.

Fellow reader Norma already commented that the characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin “seem to be very one-sided – too perfect or too evil.”  Her comment reminded me of Bunyan’s characters in Pilgrim’s Progress; they weren’t “real people” but were tools that the author used to tell his story.

Have any of you spotted Bunyan in our current book?


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More in Common Than the Moustache

We know from his reference to the doorway to hell that occupied Chillingworth’s eyes that Hawthorne knew his Bunyan, but there is a more subtle commonality running between the two.

Bunyan’s work is full of Sins.  Personified Sins, no less.  And yet, no sin is ever described in detail.  We didn’t spend lots of time with Wanton or Madame Bubble, but instead heard only of their affects on the Faithful and Standfast souls they attacked .  I think that Bunyan knew that to dwell too long on evil was to glorify it and make it attractive.

The same is true for Hawthorne’s treatment of adultery.  He wanted us to sympathize with Hester, and possibly even Dimmesdale, but I don’t believe he wanted us to sympathize with Adultery.  The capital A marks it as a personified sin, much like those encountered on Christian’s journey, and as in the Pilgrimage we see only the effects that Sin has on all that it touches.  We can hurt for those whose lives have been forever changed by the dark misdeed, but we cannot love Adultery itself.  Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Nicely done, guys.


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