Discuss the extracts from ‘The Power and the Glory’ and ‘The Pilgrims Progress’
The extract from ‘The Power and the Glory’ is about the priest’s last night in prison before his execution. Greene writes about how the priest felt like he had accomplished nothing during his life and feels that through death he will still be a nobody.
The extract from ‘The Pilgrims Progress’ is about the end to Christian’s journey to heaven. When he gets to the gates Christian and his fellow pilgrim were surrounded by heavenly hosts and accepted into the Kingdom of God for eternity.
Greene shows the dark and gloomy side to the life of a priest who has no self worth or any belief in his own spirituality. The priest believes in salvation by works, and he does not think he has done anything in the way of good works to earn his salvation. His dream of becoming a saint is not going to happen as he believes that eternal hell is being prepared for him, rather than eternal life in heaven. The priest is a Catholic priest and they believe that they have to earn their salvation, where as in ‘The Pilgrims Progress’ Christian receives his salvation right at the begging of the book, at the cross. Then from that point he just has to hold onto it by making right choices and battling through everything the devil throws at him. This is a totally different way of seeing things, and also can have two very different results.
Greene has written a very deep piece, there is so many religious thoughts and beliefs, so many feelings of grief, and loss, and total failure. He presents a broken man, who knows all to well his sins, ‘I have been drunk – I don’t know how many times; there isn’t a duty I haven’t neglected; I have been guilty of pride, lack of charity.’ He also remembers how people had died for him, and he feels guilty that ‘God hadn’t thought fit to send them’ a saint.
The way in which Green has expressed the priest feelings is not just through his words, he does it by describing what is happening elsewhere, he sets the scene totally, and it always intensifies the feelings of the priest. ‘He looked through the bars at the hot moony square. He could see police asleep in their hammocks… There was an odd silence everywhere, even in the other cells; it was as if the whole world had tactfully turned away to avoid seeing him die.’
This extract from Graham Greene’s ‘The Power and the Glory’ is very much in context with the rest of the book, the negativity of the priest and his utter hopelessness follows him throughout the story and ends here with his death. The feeling of regret and of failure are two things that come up time and time again through out the book, and Greene continuously brings up many Catholic beliefs and torments. Hr brings to people attention the pressures that the Catholic people have on them to do as much good in their life as possible so as to earn themselves their salvation. It’s all about good deeds, and duty.
For the priest, all he wants is to be a saint, to be accepted into eternity by the saint already there. He wants to be someone that people could be proud of, to die for a worthy cause, and to know that his death was not the end. That people would not cringe at his name and comment about his drinking, but to recognise that he stayed when others run, he did not give in like Padre Jose, but stayed true to his people. He wants to be worthy of his death.
Bunyan has written this ending in a positive way. Which a contrast to the ending in ‘The Power and the Glory’ which is negative. Christian has finally reached the end of his story, the gates of the city of Heaven. Bunyan is very descriptive about who meets Christian at the gates, ‘Trumpeters, clothed in white and shining Rayment…’ Christian gives his certificate, which he received back at the beginning of his journey, to the people at the Gate.
Christian and his fellow pilgrim both enter into the gates, and as they do they are transfigured, ‘and they had Raiment put on that shone like Gold. Then they were given harps, and crowns and the bells of the City started to chime. Bunyan describes the ‘City shone like the sun, the streets also were paved with Gold, and in them walked many men, with Crowns on their heads, Psalms in their hands, and golden Harps to sing praises with.’ This is the classic description of what heaven will look like.
Bunyan also goes on in this extract to talk about Ignorance, who gets turned away from the Gate as he has no certificate with him because he did not start the path from the beginning and did not see the need to. This touches on such a huge reality, Bunyan has picked up on a matter that many people who think they are set for eternal life in heaven will in fact not be ushered in, but left outside.
The language in Bunyan has changed a lot over the years since it was written, as he uses words and spellings that have changed and that are no longer used. Also he even uses two different spellings himself of the same word, ‘Rayment’ and ‘Raiment’ pronounced the same, but spelt differently, this shows how unstable the spelling was back when Bunyan wrote this book. ‘Compassed’ is another word not used too often in the English language these days, we tend to say ‘surrounded’. ‘As’twere’ is a spelling that is no longer used, it has no become, ‘as it were’, or ‘as it was.’ Bunyan also uses odd Graphology, as he capitalises words that should not for any particular reason be capitalised, for exapmple, ‘Brother, Gates, Bells. Dream’ These are words that I think he wanted to put emphasis on, these where things he wanted people to remember, although apart from that they seem rather random.
This extract is in context with the rest of the book. Bunyans language and random capitalisation happens throughout the previous pages of the book as much as it does in the two that the extract is from. The way it has been written is the same as how the rest of the book has been written, the meanings the story line, it all leads up to this one all important ending. The final part of Christians story. This is the aim to which every Christian is longing to get, and Bunyan has written it in such a way that would encourage many more Christians to carry on along their walk with God and reach that final heavenly goal. Which is what I think Bunyan wanted to do with this book.