Tag Archives: Pilgrim’s Progress

Pilgrims on the Heath

Book Third, Chapter seven

Mrs. Yeobright refuses to attend Clym and Eustacia’s wedding, but she does want to send a gift.  She trusts Christian to deliver money to the happy couple and her niece Thomasin.  Did you catch that?  She trusts Christian Cantle.  Yes, Christian.  The man who reminded me of Sancho.

In this chapter Christian Cantle reminds me of another Christian we’ve met: Christian from Pilgrim’s Progress.  Here we have C.C. with the Yeobright money in his boots.  He’s off  to deliver the inheritance.  Instead he’s tempted to visit Vanity Fair, I mean, to go to a raffle and then to a very serious gambling session in the woods.  You saw trouble coming, didn’t you.  Just like me, you knew that this Christian’s burden was going to fall off way too soon.  Those coins were never going to make it to Mistover Knapp.  Thankfully, the Reddleman was there to save the day.  From now on I’ll just call Venn, Greatheart.

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Posted by on January 8, 2013 in The Return of the Native


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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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Classic Themes Revisited

Last September I had a revelation about classic literature themes.  At that point our group had read the first three novels of the WEM list.  I noticed that these books had three themes in common.  I’ve copied part of that post here and added what I’ve found in my reading of Moby-Dick to these notes.  I’m thinking I have thesis material for my DIY degree.

1.  Travel
*In the book Don Quixote, the main character had sallies throughout the countryside.
*In Pilgrim’s Progress Christian and Christiana had journeys to the Celestial City.
*In Gulliver’s Travels–well, it’s in the title.  Traveling is part of the story.  Actually four parts of the story.
*In Moby-Dick Ishmael signs up for a three-year stint on a whaling ship.

2. Giants
*Don Quixote thought he saw giants where windmills were.
*Christian had a terrible encounter with the Giant Despair.  There was also the Giant Maul.
*The people of Lilliput call Lemuel Gulliver a “man-mountain”.  To their six-inch frames, Gulliver is a giant.
In the second part of Gulliver’s Travels, the roles are reversed.  Gulliver is tiny compared to the people of Brobdingnag.
*In chapter 34 of Moby-Dick, the harpoonist named Daggoo is described as having “colossal limbs, making the low cabin framework to shake, as when an African elephant goes passenger in a ship.”  Later the book says, “Not by beef or by bread, are giants made or nourished.”

3. Bodily Functions:  I’ll try to be discreet and follow the lead of my fellow blogger.
*DQ had balsam; and a separate instance with Sancho on his donkey that I wish I could forget.
*In PP, Matthew takes a medicine to help him with his guilt gripe.
*In GT, I read about two instances of No 1 and one instance of No 2.
*My very first footnote in chapter one of Moby-Dick explains this phrase “if you never violate the Pthagorean maxim.”  Here’s the footnote: Pythagoras advised his disciples “to abstain from beans because they are flatulent and partake most of the breath of life.”

All of the novels we’ve read have included some sort of travel.  Elizabeth travels with her aunt and uncle.  Oliver runs away to London.  Jane goes to boarding school, takes a carriage to Thornfield Hall, and travels on foot across the moor.  Hester and Pearl take a boat across the ocean in the epilogue.

Sadly, or not so sadly, none of the other novels involve giants or bodily functions.

I’m imagining what it will be like to do an oral defense of my “thesis”.  Don’t you think the scholars will be impressed?


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Doorway to the Soul

I’m starting to feel smart, aren’t you?  You know that great rush when your’e reading along and then, BOOM!  Out of nowhere is a reference to another piece of literature, and you get it!?!

It just happened, my friends.  Hawthorne was describing the despicable character of Roger Chillingworth with this sentence,

Sometimes, a light glimmered out of the physician’s eyes, burning blue and ominous, like the reflection of a furnace, or, let us say, like one of those gleams of ghastly fire that darted from Bunyan’s awful doorway in the hill-side, and quivered on the pilgrim’s face.

Oh yes, the Pilgrim’s Progress passageway to hell for hypocrites and traitors, the reference made sense to me without the aid of an end-note!  Hoorah!  This DIY Master’s is really working.


Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Pilgrim's Progress, The Scarlet Letter


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Hello again, Martin!

It’s always nice to run into a friend when you’re reading.  Remember when we were stuck in the Slough of Despond with Christian and Pliable and we ran into dear, sweet, sainted Dr. Luther in the endnotes.  His presence was a pleasant surprise, it’s just too bad he couldn’t hang around for more of the story.

Well, guess what?  I ran across him again.  I’m afraid he and Pearl were hanging out in the same boat.  Their reputations as ‘Little Hellions’ tied them together.

[Hester] remembered – betwixt a smile and a shudder – the talk of the neighbouring townspeople; who, seeking vainly elsewhere for the child’s paternity, and observing some of her odd attributes, had given out that poor little Pearl was a demon offspring; such as, ever since old Catholic times, had occasionally been seen on earth, through the agency of their mothers’ sin, and to promote some foul and wicked purpose.  Luther, according to the scandal of his monkish enemies, was a brat of that hellish breed; . . .

I don’t care what they say, Martin, I really like both you and Pearl.


Posted by on February 24, 2012 in The Scarlet Letter


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Renaming Oliver Twist

You’ve finished Oliver Twist?  Great!

But for those of us following the WEM guidelines, we still have an assignment.  Remember when I said that I was required to take notes?  Keep a character list?  Fold down corners?  Look up definitions of words?  All of those things are suggestions by Susan Wise Bauer in her section titled “How to Read a Novel”.  Upon completion of the latest classic, I grab three things: my copy of the novel, my journal, and my copy of WEM.  I then do my best to answer the thoughtful questions Bauer has crafted.  One of the things she asks me to do is to give the novel a new title and subtitle.

“Now give your book a title that mentions the main character, and a subtitle that tells how that character is affected by the book’s main events.” WEM pg. 70

Here’s my attempt at titling Dickens’ sad story:

Oliver Twist: an innocent orphan is abused and manipulated by evil characters and, finally, rescued from his sad life by kind, wealthy people who are related to him.

It’s rather wordy and not very catchy.  But check this out.  According to the WEM synopsis for Oliver Twist, the book “was originally subittled The Parish Boy’s Progress in a satirical play on Bunyan’s title.  Christian is a grown man who can pursue his own destiny, but Oliver Twist is entirely dependent on the kindness of strangers.”

Whoa!  The classic novels are so intertwined!  Remember the Don Quixote references?  And way back when we started Oliver, I felt Dickens was making allusions to  Pilgrim’s Progress .  It makes me wonder what we’ll find in Jane Eyre.

Blog friends, here’s an assignment for you.  I’d love to read your attempts at renaming Oliver Twist in the comments section.


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Will the Fat Lady Ever Sing?

I know, you thought we were done with Pilgrim’s Progress.  Then we ran across him on a field trip.  Then he showed up in my son’s writing curriculum.  And now, it seems it still isn’t over.

It turns out that one of my favorite composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote an entire opera on Pilgrim’s Progress.

Here’s a little piece about the piece.

If this comes to town, we’re going. .


Posted by on November 21, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress


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In My Son’s Second Grade Writing Curriculum . . .

I found this:Let the indoctrination begin.


Posted by on November 20, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress


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Revisiting Pilgrim’s Progress

Even though we’re in the midst of Gulliver’s Travels, Sunday’s Bible Class left me thinking about Pilgrim’s Progress

Our Adult Bible Class is watching a video series by LCMS President The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison.  In part of this week’s lesson Pastor Harrison talked about how so many people incorrectly think that church is about what they do for God.  Pr. Harrison rightly said that God needs nothing from us. What would the Creator of the world need from His creation?  He then shared an analogy of Martin Luther’s about sinners coming to worship.  Luther says that all of us come to church as poor, miserable sinners with an empty sack.  We have nothing to give God.  We confess our sins and receive forgiveness, a gift from God, which we put in our sack.  Over and over in the service we receive gifts: grace, mercy, love, the Word of God…  A multitude of blessings!  All of these gifts go in our sacks.  We leave the service with a sack over-flowing with good gifts from God.  We take our gifts home, and we share all the goodies we received with our neighbor.

I kept thinking of Christian and his burden. 

What if when his sins fell off at the cross, Christian received a new sack to carry?
A sack that was full of blessings from the Almighty God.

Oh, how that would have changed his journey.


Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress


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Themes in Classic Literature?

Here we are at the start of the third novel in our WEM quest.  I’m only a few chapters into Gulliver’s Travels, but I have noticed some shared themes between this novel and the first two books. 

1.  Travel 
     DQ had sallies throughout the countryside.  
     PP had its journey to the Celestial City.  
     Gulliver’s Travels–well, it’s in the title.  Traveling will be part of the story.

2. Giants
    Don Quixote thought he saw giants where windmills were.
    Christian had a terrible encounter with the Giant Despair.  There was also the Giant Maul.
    The people of Lilliput call Lemuel Gulliver a “man-mountain”.  To their six-inch frames, Gulliver is a giant.
    In the second part of GT, the roles are reversed.  Gulliver is tiny compared to the people of Brobdingnag

3. Bodily Functions:  I’ll try to be discreet and follow the lead of my fellow blogger.
    DQ had balsam; and a separate instance with Sancho on his donkey that I wish I could forget.
    In PP, Matthew takes a medicine to help him with his guilt gripe.
    So far in GT, I’ve read about two instances of No 1 and one instance of No 2.

So there you have it.  Major themes in classic literature. Impressive, no?


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