I have a few friends that have struggled with depression and despair. I think I read the section of P.P. where Christian is trapped in Doubting Castle, imprisoned by Giant Despair more carefully as a result, thinking of those I have known in similar imprisonments. I wondered what light Bunyan’s allegory would shed on this situation.
I found some of his conclusions interesting. Not sure if I agree with everything, but interesting, none-the-less.
Christian stumbles into Despair’s clutches of his own accord due to climbing out of The Way. There he is beaten and starved. Not only that, he is tempted by Despair to abandon life and end it. Suicide is the answer, according to Despair. Christian is close to agreeing, but, (and I love this), his companion in Doubting Castle is HOPEFUL! What a great companion when in Despair! Hopeful counsels him to be patient, trust in God, reminds him that although choosing the Grave seems easy, Hell might be worse, tells him to endure, reminds him that others have escaped Despair, and puts in mind how they have been rescued from many other trials.
As they are on the verge of Death, Christian remembers that he has “a Key in (his) bosom, called Promise, that will …open any lock in Doubting Castle.” Sure enough, it does open the doors and they are able to escape. Did I miss something, girls? When did he get this Key? What exactly is the Promise? I could think of several scriptural promises that would be comforting in this situation, but I’m not sure if there is a specific one being referenced here. Any thoughts, Readers?
So, we stumble into Despair all on our own, but only the Promise will enable us to get out. Hmm..
I was also remembering that the Interpreter had shown Christian a man named Despair in an Iron Cage before he set out on his journey. This man said that he could not escape and had no Hope because he had “shut himself out of the Promises” because of the “Lusts, Pleasures and Profits of the World” and implies that God had denied him Repentence. Now I think I’m really confused. I like Doubting Castle’s conclusions better, I think.