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Extracts from Book on Analysis of Literary Texts

From Section Two: British Fiction & Prose (Pages 95-96)

The Pilgrimís Progress as an Allegory
An allegory is a narrative fiction in which the agents and action and sometimes the setting as well are contrived to make coherent sense on the primary level of signification and at the same time signify a second, deeper level of correlated order of agents, concepts and events.
There are two types of allegory. First one is historical or political allegory in which the characters and actions that are signified literally in their turn represent historical personages and events. The second one is the allegory of ideas in which the literal characters represent abstract concepts and the plot exemplifies a doctrine. It may have political, humorous or didactic intentions.

Thus we can say that The Pilgrimís Progress is an example of an allegory. The central device in the second type of allegory is the personification of abstract entities such as virtues, vices, states of mind, modes of life and types of character. Thus Bunyanís work allegorizes the Christian doctrine of salvation by telling how the character named Christian, warned by Evangelist, flees to the Celestial City from the City of Destruction. During his journey he encounters characters with names like Faithful, Hopeful, Giant Despair and passes through places like the Slough of Despond, the valley of the Shadow of Death and Vanity Fair.

The Journey: The Pilgrimís Progress is an allegorical representation of Christianís struggle to attain salvation. He becomes aware of a burden on his back (an allegory for his sinfulness) and abandons life (including his unfortunate wife and family) and seeks death. However, his aim is not to ďcease upon the midnight with no painĒ. On the other hand, his journey is one of constant struggle and conflict and the words ďLife, Life, Eternal LifeĒ are on his lips. Christianís pilgrimage is an allegory of a religious manís quest for spirituality and salvation through the renunciation of worldly pleasures. The difficulties that Christian encounters on his pilgrimage are partly overcome with the help of various characters he meetsóallegorical representations of heavenly beings whom God has chosen to help Christian.

The Slough of Despond: The Slough into which Christian falls symbolizes the state of despondency into which religious men fall when their resolve is weakened. A man called Help, an allegory of Christ, shows him the steps to climb out of the Slough. These steps stand for faith in Christ.

The Wicket-gate; the Interpreterís House and the Cross: Mr. Worldly Wiseman misleads Christian to a village called Morality and wants him to follow the Church of England, not Puritanism or Calvinism. However, Evangelist shows him the right path and takes him to the Wicket-gate, a symbol of Christ. Christianís arrival there is an allegorical representation of his allegiance to Christ. Later he reaches the Interpreterís House where he sees various symbolic pictures which impart valuable lessons to him. Afterwards he sees the Cross, where the burden falls off his back. This is to show that Christ has pardoned his sins and that he is the chosen of God.

The Lions and the Palace Beautiful: On the way Christian comes to the Palace Beautiful close to which lie two chained lions. The Palace Beautiful stands for the congregation in a church and the lions connote the persecution of the non-conformists in Bunyanís time. At the Palace Beautiful, Christian is treated hospitably by a few damsels, each of whom symbolizes a virtue.

Christianís Victory over Apollyon: In the Valley of Humiliation, Christian fights a monster called Apollyon who stands for the Devil. Christian defeats him with a sword, which symbolizes faith. His victory is in fact a victory over the Devilís temptations.

Valley of the Shadow of Death: The Valley of the Shadow of Death is full of hobgoblins, satyrs and dragons, where snares, deep holes and nets await a pilgrim. These dangers symbolize the spiritual uncertainties that a religious man will have to encounter. Here Christian sees the remains of pilgrims who had gone before him. Finding his sword ineffective, he overcomes the dangers with another weapon called All-prayer. This means that spiritual uncertainties can be overcome only by means of constant prayer.

Faithful and Talkative: Faithful is now Christianís companion in his journey and stands for unshakeable faith in God and salvation. Both of them meet Mr. Talkative, and Christian warns Fathful that he is a mere talker and not a doer, and such people can hardly hope for salvation.

Vanity Fair: Christian and Faithful come to the Vanity Fair where houses, lands, honours, titles, lusts and pleasures of all kinds including whores, bawds, husbands, wives and children were sold. Christian and Faithful pay no attention to them; this angers the traders and the two pilgrims are imprisoned. On charges of sedition and violation of law, Faithful is executed. Vanity Fair represents the carnal attractions of the world. True spirituality can be attained only by overcoming them. The episode of the Vanity Fair brings into focus the victory of the spiritual over the physical.

Rejection of Monetary Gain: Christian along with a new companion Hopeful (symbolizing hope) meets Mr. By-ends, an allegorical personification of people who pretend to be religious in order to attain selfish ends. Later, on a hill called Lucre, the two pilgrims are invited by Demas to dig out silver from his silver mine. They reject the offer and continue on their journey.

Giant Despair and the Key called Promise: The pilgrims take the wrong path by mistake and are imprisoned by Giant Despair in Doubting Castle. There the giant beats them and urges them to commit suicide. Christian nearly obeys him but Hopeful asks him not to despair and tells him that suicide is sin. Christian unlocks the prison gates with a key called Promise, which represents the promise given by Christ to his disciples.

The End of the Journey: They now pass through Delectable Mountains, the Enchanted Ground and River of Death. Christian has some difficulty in crossing these places but is constantly helped and encouraged by Hopeful. These difficulties symbolize spiritual doubts, which can be overcome by hope. They finally reach the Celestial City or Jerusalem, their destination.

Conclusion: The Pilgrimís Progress is about attaining salvation by overcoming spiritual doubts and temptations with faith and hope. Only a man who is constantly aware of the righteousness of Christ will become the chosen of God and attain salvation.



From Section Three: British Drama

KITCHEN SINK DRAMA

Kitchen sink drama, a term applied in the late 1950s to the plays of writers such as Arnold Wesker, Shelagh Delaney and John Osborne, which portrayed working class or lower middle class life, with an emphasis on domestic realism. The term "kitchen sink" derived from an expressionist painting by John Bratby, which contained an image of a kitchen sink and which reflected a new interest among young painters in domestic scenes, with stress on the banality of life. The term was quickly applied to a new style of drama, the hallmark of which was a more realistic representation of social life; including details like ironing boards and minor domestic squalor as in John Osborne's Look Back in Anger with ironing as a piece of stage business. Kitchen sink plays were written in part as a reaction against the drawing room comedies and middle class dramas of Noel Coward and Terence Rattigan, and also undermined the popularity of the verse drama of T.S. Eliot and Christopher Fry.  Tynan was a principal advocate of this new group of writers.



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