Faithful And Hopeful


The dual personality of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Promise, standing the test of time since its publication in 1678, still has a meaningful message for not only Plymouth Rock descendants but all Americans. Topically, this novel would make an incredible action film. However, the allegorical nuances of this moralistic tale are scattered throughout; two of the most compelling and obvious allegorical characters whose symbolism helps to explain how the novel is an allegory at heart are Faithful and Hopeful.

Faithful, a friend of the main character, Christian, has come from the same city as Christian has – the City of Destruction. Both characters are embarking upon a pilgrimage, which in and of itself, is a journey seeking something. The novel describes both Christian and Faithful as being on a quest of some sort. The allegory of the name of their departure place, City of Destruction, from which both Faithful and Christian both leave on their journey, is a weakly veiled term for earth or for the young men’s present lives. They are looking for salvation or perhaps a new way of living. Faithful, aptly named, is quite sure that there is a better life at Celestial City. Again, the name of this city is loosely veiled, and it is surely heaven or the afterlife. Because God lives in heaven and because a faithful person goes to heaven when he or she does, this allegory of Faithful is clearly a believer seeking God. Faithful does, in fact, reach Celestial City, even before Christian, as he dies at Vanity Fair when he is burned at the stake in a horrible death caused by false allegations that he started a ruckus in Vanity Fair by not wanting to look at the trinkets for sale in the streets. Faithful stays true to himself and his beliefs to the end of his life, and wins a sort of martyr-like acclaim from many of the characters in Vanity Fair. Faithful does go on to live on in spirit, as a chariot pulled by horses appeared after he died to take him on to Celestial City. Those who did not believe in Faithful did not witness that chariot.

Hopeful, on the other hand, comes into Christian’s life after Faithful dies. Hopeful lives in Vanity Fair, where Faithful has died, and in the novel, in a way, he becomes the new Faithful in Christian’s life. Hopeful was inspired by the words of Faithful and respected Faithful’s noble death. Hopeful decides to go on the pilgrimage with Christian, just as Faithful did. Hopeful, as aptly named as Faithful, is an optimist of sorts. For example, in the dungeon of the Doubting Castle, Hopeful sees a way out when Christian does not. Hopeful and Christian continue on the path toward Celestial City, barely getting themselves out of one dire situation before another one came along. Hopeful always seems to keep Christian going, citing the goal of reaching Celestial City. The allegory here is that if Christian leans on Hopeful, he will get where he wants to go; if man leans on hope, he will reach heaven.

While Faithful and Hopeful are just two of the many characters Christian encounters along the way of his journey from City of Destruction to Celestial City, they are perhaps two of the best allegorical representations in the novel. Bunyan, in his quest for religious freedom and freedom of religious expression, created both of these characters to show Christian, hence man – everyone in his audience – that faith and hope, when upheld with sincerity and grace, are the way to heaven.