The Pilgrim's Progress
The author of The Pilgrim's Progress is well described by Coleridge's remark: "His piety was baffled by his genius; and Bunyan the dreamer overcame the Bunyan of the conventicle." This remark points out the difficulty that Bunyan faces when he attempts to write a religious piece of work in the style of allegory. The Pilgrim's Progress is "pious" because it is a piece written in dedication to God. It contains important religious teachings -- what a good Christian should do and what he should not do. What Coleridge means by Bunyan's "genius" is basically the story itself. The story is so well written that people become so interested in the story and forget the whole spiritual truth behind and this worry Bunyan. Coleridge also indicates in his remarks, the tension between "piety" and "dreaming". "Dreaming", as we know is unreal, and it can hardly be connected with "piety". But Bunyan, through his "genius", not only managed to bring these two things together, but in way that would be satisfiable to all.
The Pilgrim's Progress is a Puritan story, and Bunyan chose to tell it in the form of an allegory. The characters, the objects and the events are presented in a symbolic way, so that the story conveys a deeper meaning that the actual incident described. A moral lesson is being taught here. The mixture of religious context and dialogue makes it more like a morality play (miracle play) which was very popular at Bunyan's time. The story is written in ordinary prose, the language is simple, colloquial and down-to-earth. This appeals to readers of the lower class, who are poor and not highly educated.
Bunyan made an apology at the beginning of his book. He apologized for the fact that all he had wanted was to write a strict philosophical piece, but instead he moved to a totally different kind of writing, more like a play. People at his time indulged in plays and drama for purely earthly pleasure. This is opposed by the Puritans since it is regarded as a kind of corruption and that one could be extracted from the direction to God. But Bunyan justified that if these things are done for God, they could be accepted. The phrase "I have used similitudes" that appeared at the original cover-page of the book explains the use of similes, metaphors and other figures of language. God Himself also speaks in figurative language, not in plain language. Bunyan is going to use similitude to tell the Christians what they should do. It is therefore not for pure enjoyment to read this book. The aim of this book is to teach a religious lesson and ask people to learn from it. Bunyan went on to justify what he did by saying that God had allowed him to do so. He clarified that he was not writing to please anyone and that it should never be used as a way to show off one's ability. He also reminded people that they had to interpret the Bible for themselves for God is not always clear in what he says.
The story opens as a dream and this is...