Write a critical analysis of the extract (Christian and Hopeful’s escape from Doubting Castle) discussing the characteristic features of Bunyan’s Style.
Bunyan uses allegory and symbolism throughout Part one. This symbolism is used very effectively in this extract; we can see the powerful images that relate to the spiritual nature of the characters. Doubt is powerful and Bunyan emphasises the danger and trappings of doubt through dramatic phraseology and strong physical images: ‘A very dark Dungeon, nasty and stinking to the Spirit of these two men.’
Bunyan’s dramatization of these events reflects also on the escape from the castle. Bunyan epitomises the ultimate despair in order to generate the joy and delight produced in the escape. This allows the reader to view the hope and joy that is present in the promises of God: ‘there to condole their misery, and to mourn under their distress.’ ‘And the door flew open with ease, and Christian and Hopeful both came out…’ Bunyan also implements the use of dynamic verbs such as ‘flew’ this makes the reader aware of the ease with which doubt is broken.
The discovery of the key of promise, which frees Christian and Hopeful from Doubting Castle; shows the reader the hope that remains even in the toughest of situations. Bunyan tries to make the reader aware of the danger of doubt through symbolism. This allows the reader to be cautious of doubt in his or her own life. This is typical of Bunyan, as his work tends to guide to correction, encourage and to issue caution: ‘ That’s good news, good brother, pluck it out of thy bosom and try.’
Christian’s realisation of foolishness has the effect of reinforcing the promise of Hope. Bunyan’s representation of this in the form of a speech allows Christian to persuade the reader to correct their foolish ways: ‘What a Fool, quoth he, am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty?’ Bunyan’s use of rhetorical questioning through Christian’s speech have the effect of encouraging the reader to question themselves. They also challenge the institution of doubt.
Throughout part one we see the use of dialogue to encourage or reassure the characters. In this extract we can also view this as Hopeful speaks to Christian and questions his doubt over the situation: ‘; My brother, said he, rememberest thou not how valiant thou hast been heretofore?’ This has the effect of not only giving reassurance and encouragement to the characters but also to the reader. The use of pausing ensures that it is well understood.
Bunyan uses imagery to create Giant Despair, ‘a large and imposing figure’ this has the effect of showing the powerful and controlling nature of doubt. However Bunyan also recreates the image of the giant to facilitate the ideas and concepts he wishes. As the escape progresses the reader sees that the large and powerful image is not all that is seems and indeed it eventually leads to its own downfall. Bunyan uses this situation to warn and encourage the reader. It allows them to see that even though trials engulf they never actually succeed. ‘Giant Despair, who, hastily rising to pursue his prisoners, felt his limbs to fail, for his fits took him again, so he could by no means go after them.’
Bunyan uses the Giant’s wife, Mrs Diffidence, to show the lack of direction that doubt has. It is created by the person and has no power. This has the effect of showing the reader that there is nothing that is worth doubt – it is a formality and should be regarded as such. This dramatic characterisation helps to indicate that hope is important and in the setting of this journey it is hope that eventually conquers the situation.
Bunyan shows the despondency and discouraging nature of the castle through Hopeful’s speech however he also corrects their self-indulgence later in the speech with desire for patience and reliance on God from Hopeful: ‘…Also cut off the bread and water from my mouth, and with thee I mourn the light. But let us exercise a little more patience; remember….’. The use of such dialogue relates also with Bunyan’s reliance on the bible as these descriptions may have also linked with the spiritual needs of a Christian. Bunyan uses the very low nature and despair created by doubt and allows the reader to see that hope was always present even if it was not always obvious to the characters.
Bunyan’s use of dialogue extends beyond the pilgrims to the Giant and his wife, Mrs Diffidence. ‘Then he asked her also what he had best to do further to them. So she asked him what they were, whence they came, and whither they were bound; and he told her. Then she counselled him that when he arose in the morning he should beat them without any mercy’. This gives insight to the reader and creates dramatic irony, as the reader is aware of the weakness of the trials. One of Bunyan’s aims when writing The Pilgrim’s Progress was the instruction of Christians and throughout this extract we can see the encouragement and warnings that he provides and the way in which his writing reflects the authorial intention of the didactic purpose.
Hopeful relates the experience of doubting castle to some of the earlier events in the book such as; the meeting with Apollyon and the valley of the Shadow of death. This has the effect of providing a link between the episodes of the dream, it helps to emphasise the representation of a journey and creates a development within the characters.
Bunyan combines many different techniques and forms in the extract but the most effective of these is the dialogue between the pilgrims and also between their tormentors. ‘Then, with a grim and surly voice, he bid them awake; and asked them whence they were, and what they did in his grounds. They told him they were pilgrims, and that they had lost their way.’ This speech allows the reader to be aware of the characters thoughts and emotions; and to immediately identify the characters’ motives. This also has the effect of furthering Bunyan’s didactic purpose. The combination of the many effects within The Pilgrim’s Progress allows it to be enjoyable to all and make it still appreciated from a literary perspective.