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Evangelist meets the wayward Christian as he stops before Mount Sinai on the way to Mr. Legality's home. It hangs over the road and threatens to crush any who would pass it; also the mountain flashed with fire. Evangelist exposes Worldly Wiseman, Legality, and Civility for the frauds they are: they would have the pilgrim leave the true path by trusting in his own good deeds to remove his burden.
Evangelist directs Christian to return to the way to the Wicket Gate, and Christian complies. At the Wicket Gate begins the "straight and narrow" King's Highway, and Christian is directed onto it by the gatekeeper Goodwill who saves him from Beelzebub's archers at Beelzebub's castle near the Wicket Gate and shows him the heavenly way he must go.
In the Second Part, Goodwill is shown to be Jesus himself. Christian makes his way from there to the House of the Interpreter, where he is shown pictures and tableaux that portray or dramatize aspects of the Christian faith and life. Roger Sharrock denotes them " emblems ".
From the House of the Interpreter, Christian finally reaches the "place of deliverance" allegorically, the cross of Calvary and the open sepulchre of Christ , where the "straps" that bound Christian's burden to him break, and it rolls away into the open sepulcher.
This event happens relatively early in the narrative: the immediate need of Christian at the beginning of the story is quickly remedied. After Christian is relieved of his burden, he is greeted by three angels, who give him the greeting of peace, new garments, and a scroll as a passport into the Celestial City. Encouraged by all this, Christian happily continues his journey until he comes upon three men named Simple, Sloth, and Presumption.
Christian tries to help them, but they disregard his advice. Before coming to the Hill of Difficulty, Christian meets two well-dressed men named Formality and Hypocrisy who prove to be false Christians that perish in the two dangerous bypasses near the hill, named Danger and Destruction.
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Christian falls asleep at the arbor above the hill and loses his scroll, forcing him to go back and get it. Near the top of the Hill of Difficulty, he meets two weak pilgrims named Mistrust and Timorous who tell him of the great lions of the Palace Beautiful. Christian frightfully avoids the lions through Watchful the porter who tells them that they are chained and put there to test the faith of pilgrims. Atop the Hill of Difficulty, Christian makes his first stop for the night at the House of the Palace Beautiful, which is a place built by God for the refresh of pilgrims and godly travelers.
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Christian spends three days here, and leaves clothed with the Armour of God Eph. This battle lasts "over half a day" until Christian manages to wound and stab Apollyon with his two-edged sword a reference to the Bible, Heb. As night falls, Christian enters the fearful Valley of the Shadow of Death. When he is in the middle of the Valley amidst the gloom, terror, and demons, he hears the words of the Twenty-third Psalm , spoken possibly by his friend Faithful:.
Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm Just outside the Valley of the Shadow of Death he meets Faithful, also a former resident of the City of Destruction, who accompanies him to Vanity Fair, a place built by Beelzebub where every thing to a human's taste, delight, and lust is sold daily, where both are arrested and detained because of their disdain for the wares and business of the Fair.
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Faithful is put on trial and executed by burning at the stake as a martyr. A celestial chariot then takes Faithful to the Celestial City, martyrdom being a shortcut there. Hopeful, a resident of Vanity Fair, takes Faithful's place to be Christian's companion for the rest of the way.
Christian and Hopeful then come to a mining hill called Lucre. Its owner named Demas offers them all the silver of the mine but Christian sees through Demas's trickery and they avoid the mine. Afterward, a false pilgrim named By-Ends and his friends, who followed Christian and Hopeful only to take advantage of them, perish at the Hill Lucre, never to be seen or heard from again. On a rough, stony stretch of road, Christian and Hopeful leave the highway to travel on the easier By-Path Meadow, where a rainstorm forces them to spend the night.
In the morning they are captured by Giant Despair, who is known for his savage cruelty, and his wife Diffidence; the pilgrims are taken to the Giant's Doubting Castle, where they are imprisoned, beaten and starved. The Giant and the Giantess want them to commit suicide , but they endure the ordeal until Christian realizes that a key he has, called Promise, will open all the doors and gates of Doubting Castle.
Using the key and the Giant's weakness to sunlight, they escape. The Delectable Mountains form the next stage of Christian and Hopeful's journey, where the shepherds show them some of the wonders of the place also known as "Immanuel's Land". The pilgrims are shown sights that strengthen their faith and warn them against sinning, like the Hill Error or the Mountain Caution.
On Mount Clear, they are able to see the Celestial City through the shepherd's "perspective glass", which serves as a telescope.
This device is given to Mercy in the Second Part at her request. The shepherds tell the pilgrims to beware of the Flatterer and to avoid the Enchanted Ground. Soon they come to a crossroad and a man dressed in white comes to help them. Thinking he is a "shining one" angel , the pilgrims follow the man, but soon get stuck in a net and realize their so-called angelic guide was the Flatterer.
A true shining one comes and frees them from the net. The Angel punishes them for following the Flatterer and then puts them back on the right path. The pilgrims meet an Atheist, who tells them Heaven and God do not exist, but Christian and Hopeful remember the shepherds and pay no attention to the man.
Christian and Hopeful come to a place where a man named Wanton Professor is chained by the ropes of seven demons who take him to a shortcut to the Lake of Fire Hell. This reminds them of a man named Little Faith, who had been mugged by thieves that stole his jewels, although the thieves did not take Little Faith's scroll. On the way, Christian and Hopeful meet a lad named Ignorance, who believes that he will be allowed into the Celestial City through his own good deeds rather than as a gift of God's grace.
Christian and Hopeful meet up with him twice and try to persuade him to journey to the Celestial City in the right way. Ignorance persists in his own way that he thinks will lead him into Heaven. After getting over the River of Death on the ferry boat of Vain Hope without overcoming the hazards of wading across it, Ignorance appears before the gates of Celestial City without a passport, which he would have acquired had he gone into the King's Highway through the Wicket Gate.
The Lord of the Celestial City orders the shining ones angels to take Ignorance to one of the byways of Hell and throw him in. Christian and Hopeful make it through the dangerous Enchanted Ground a place where the air makes them sleepy and if they fall asleep, they never wake up into the Land of Beulah, where they ready themselves to cross the dreaded River of Death on foot to Mount Zion and the Celestial City. Christian has a rough time of it because of his past sins wearing him down, but Hopeful helps him over, and they are welcomed into the Celestial City. They visit the same stopping places that Christian visited, with the addition of Gaius' Inn between the Valley of the Shadow of Death and Vanity Fair, but they take a longer time in order to accommodate marriage and childbirth for the four sons and their wives.
The hero of the story is Greatheart, a servant of the Interpreter, who is the pilgrims' guide to the Celestial City. When Christiana's party leaves Gaius's Inn and Mr. Feeble-Mind lingers in order to be left behind, he is encouraged to accompany the party by Greatheart. Feeble-Mind, and Mr. Ready-To-Halt come to Bypath-Meadow and, after much fight and difficulty, slay the cruel Giant Despair and the wicked Giantess Diffidence, and demolish Doubting Castle for Christian and Hopeful who were oppressed there.
They free a pale man named Mr. Despondency and his daughter named Much-Afraid from the castle's dungeons. When the pilgrims end up in the Land of Beulah, they cross over the River of Death by appointment. As a matter of importance to Christians of Bunyan's persuasion reflected in the narrative of The Pilgrim's Progress , the last words of the pilgrims as they cross over the River of Death are recorded. The four sons of Christian and their families do not cross but remain for the support of the church in that place. Scholars have pointed out that Bunyan may have been influenced in the creation of places in The Pilgrim's Progress by his own surrounding environment.
Albert Foster  describes the natural features of Bedfordshire that apparently turn up in The Pilgrim's Progress. Vera Brittain in her thoroughly researched biography of Bunyan,  identifies seven locations that appear in the allegory.