It is clear when upon reading a novel that it does much more than simply lists the events as they occur. The narrative structure used in Equiano’s Travels and The Pilgrims Progress clearly support this theory. They do however tell the story in very different ways. The novel Equiano’s Travels are regularly presented as a slave narrative with autobiographical qualities. This is because Olaudah Equiano’s own narrative recounts the tale of how he was kip napped and sold into slavery at the age of eleven in the 1700’s.
In this narrative, Equiano tries to recover a memory that is accurate for him rather than simply listing what happens. Elman V. Francis, a literature analyst describes the narrative as “an autobiography, which reads like an epic. “1 John Bunyan’s novel, The Pilgrims Progress is very different to Equiano’s Travels in terms of its narrative structure is because the narrative of this of this novel is depicted as an allegorical narrative. The novel has a strong theological message in a very direct way. It symbolises an underlying meaning. Unlike Equiano’s Travels, Bunyan has used a fictional apparatus to tell the truth.
This is seen a similar way in the form of a Christians pilgrimage and the way that they search for truth. Bunyan is telling a compelling story using people with normal human characteristics. He then states in his apology that it the novel is a “normal” fictitious story isn’t a true reflection. The basic story of The Pilgrims Progress has been described by the website biblicaltheology. com, as a “work on the conversion of a sinner and on his way to heaven in the form an allegory. “2 The narrative of The Pilgrims Progress attempts to teach its reader.
The primary purpose of this novel is to inform the reader and impose a religious message upon the reader. Unlike a typical novel The Pilgrims Progress contains notes in the margin, which are similar to teaching text books. This technique reinforces the novels scholastic intentions while emphasizing its moralistic undertone. It is a didactic novel in very palpable way as there are an astounding amounts amount of morals within the novel. For example, the characters themselves are used as a method of conveying the morals in this book, such as Hopeful, Goodwill, Faithful and the main character himself, Christian.
Bunyan has tried to encourage the reader to pay close attention to the events and the characters, which occur within the book, rather than just simply listing the events. This can be further supported by a quote taken from the website www. unwinnipeg. ca/morton/rivals/allegory. htm, as The Pilgrims Progress is said to be “a symbolic fictional narrative that conveys a secondary meaning not explicitly set forth in the literal narrative. 3” This therefore, is saying that the narrator assumes that the reader understands the morals behind the tale, without Bunyan having to make it too obvious.
It is crucial that the interpretation is correct within the novel. This narrative technique is correct within the novel. This narrative technique is similar to that of Equiano’s Travels, but in a very subtle way. The story of Equiano is simply trying to teach its audience about how to live life in the 1700’s. Both novels contain symbolisation and representation. The Pilgrims Progress represents aspects of human nature that are placed into an abstract character, which is Christian. Places such as Vanity Fair and the Slough of Despond are typical examples of methods of personification allegory in the novel.
The Slough of Despond represents Christian’s foes. Equiano’s Travels can also be illustrated as a personified allegory, as it contains the effects of an autobiography, because it is told through the eyes of Equiano. Another similarity between both novels is that they are both travel narratives. Equiano’s narrative outlines his travels, from Africa to America to Great Britain. This making it similar to travellers books at the time. The Pilgrims Progress can also be illustrated as a travel narrative, as it is about Christian’s journey for redemption to rid himself of sin.
This is clearly shows that it is a spiritual story. This concept can be further supported by a quote made by Robert Bridges in 1905, stating that “Christian’s adventures are Bunyan’s spiritual experiences. “4 Similar to this is the narrative of Equiano’s Travels, as it has been described as a “spiritual autobiography”5 by novel analyst Adam Potkay in his book Olaudah Equiano and the Art of the Spiritual Autobiography. The Pilgrims Progress is seen and told from a very different point of view to that of Equiano’s Travels, although both narratives are told by the author himself.
The narrative of The Pilgrims Progress is told from Bunyan’s perspective, as it is his dream. Though the reader may forget this and believe it to be a fictional tale. To prevent this from happening Bunyan keeps waking up, in an uneven pattern, to remind the reader that it is simply a dream. He does this self consciously, making this a self-conscious piece of narrative. It is also a single, consistent and coherent narrative.
This can be further strengthened by a quote made by David Seed in his book Dialogue and Debate in the Pilgrim’s Progress, “the narrator is in the foreground of the narrative partly from the frequency of his appearances. 6 Equiano’s Travels is also told from the author’s perspective, as it is an autobiography. Though the novel is told from Equiano’s point of view, there are elements of the writer’s point of view. This is because the writer has considered the audience of the time it was written, the audience typically being middle class white men. Therefore, there are elements of ellipsis in the text, as Equiano had to “tone down” on some accounts of events dues to the social codes of 1789. This can be seen in chapter six of the book, as here Equiano starts to self-censor parts of the slave narrative himself.
Here there is evidence of persecution towards the author. This is because he does not want the novel to be an affront to the very people that are the market for the book. This means that the content of the novel could be somewhat questionable. Though historical analyst Willie Lee Rose, in her book Slavery and Freedom can support the fact that the content of the narrative is in actual fact quite accurate, as she states that; “Ironically, an age of expanded liberties for whites had witnessed the rationalisation of the slave system, making it harder for slaves to become free to learn to read or open their minds in any way.
This in relation to Equiano’s account of the education system in America is true, because the author has stated that it was quite difficult for a slave to educate himself. He was one of a “lucky” few as it was a rare thing. Equiano found the opportunity to learn to read and write English when he was visiting England, because it was impossible to do so on the America as Rose has clearly pointed out. Fiction, such as The Pilgrims Progress, shows us and tells us what happened. The most obvious form of showing in The Pilgrims Progress is the use of quoted speech between characters in the book, such as Christian and Apollyon.
For example; Chr: “I have given him my faith and sworn my allegiance to him; how then can I go back from this a not be hanged a traitor? ” Apol: “Thou didest the same to me and yet I am willing to pass by all, if now thou wilt yet turn again and go back. “8 The type of discourse, as David Lodge says in his book The Art of Fiction, “mirrors the event” in the novel. The obvious form of telling in The Pilgrims Progress is when Bunyan has written, purposefully, notes by the side of the main text. This helps with the narration, as it is a certifiable summary of what has happened thus far in each paragraph.
However, he also gives a summary of the description in the marginal notes, such as “What makes the Slough of Despond. “9 This summary gives the reader the opportunity to read through uninteresting events quicker than usual. Equiano’s Travels can be described as a historical novel. This is because the novel consists of descriptions of major historical events, such as slavery in the 1700’s. The author evokes a sense of the past, as in the first chapter in the book he describes what he remembers of his past in terms of morals, ideology and culture.
Equiano, though accounts of his earlier life, tries to make the reader aware of the African “way of life” This aspect of the book can be seen as inaccurate and unreliable to a certain extent, as Equiano told this story at the age of forty-four. Therefore it is likely that the most of the experiences regarding his homeland, his rich culture and his real African identity. As a result of this Equiano’s memories are simply a construction, because he went to the nearest sources for a much more accurate illustration of his earlier years as a child.
Bunyan on the other hand has aimed to create as David Lodge says, “anything like the illusion of life. “10 He has done this in a very symbolic way, as the novel talks about everyday experience and symbolism is a method that Bunyan has adapted in this text to describe something that would occur in everyday life of humans. Back when the novel was written for example the majority of the people went to church and read the bible. Another example of symbolism in the book, a primary example is that of Christian’s burden, this represents his sins. Other examples of symbolism in The Pilgrims Progress are the episode at the wicket gate.
This is when Christian meets Evangelist and it symbolises Christian’s conversion from evil to pure goodness. This is when incidents where Apollyon and the Doubting Castle, symbolise the first two appearances of the villain. Wordly-Wiseman acts as a lesser villain than the other two, as his purpose is to simply persuade both Christian and Hopeful. Finally symbolism in The Pilgrims Progress is shown at the end of both Christian’s and Hopeful’s journey, they come to a large river, which isolates them from their destination, the Celestial City, The river is quite deep and foreboding and Christian is understandably hesitant about crossing.
This river clearly represents death. Symbolism is frequently used in a religious context. Therefore, it was going to be apparent in the novel, because The Pilgrims Progress was the next thing that was read at the church after the bible, as it was accessible to the illiterate, such as children. The structure of both novels in contrast to one another is quite different. This is evident in Equiano’s Travels, as the effects upon the structure of a novel are experienced over a long period of time.
Equiano’s Travels is narrated in chronological order, as it starts off from Equiano in Africa to when he was kidnapped to how he was sold as a slave and then to his freedom. It is divided into several chapters, this as David Lodge suggests “gives us the narrative and the reader, time to take breath, as it were, in the intervening pauses. “11 It is a non-fiction novel, so the narrative is clearly quite gripping and it is similar to that of a documentary as it informs the reader about the life of Olaudah Equiano. However, it does contain an element of fiction and invention in chapter four as mentioned before.
Often the beginning of a new chapter has a rhetorical effect. However, this is not the case for Equiano’s Travels. Equiano’s uses the rhetoric device on the last page of the first chapter. He tends to ask rhetoric questions, for example; “Are any pains taken to teach them these? Are they treated as men? Does not slavery itself depress the treated as men? Does not slavery itself depress the mind and extinguish all its fire and every noble sentiment. “12This means that it is a narrative that attempts to persuade the reader the rhetoric is one form of persuasion.
In comparison, in terms of structure, the narrative of The Pilgrims Progress is not broken down into smaller units. For example, part one was mainly about Christian’s pilgrimage and part two of the novel was about Christian’s wife Christiana’s pilgrimage. The narrative structure of The Pilgrims Progress is said to have been similar to that of a fairy tale. To further support this suggestion, a quote taken from the website gospel. com says that the narrative of The Pilgrims Progress contains “giants and dragons; an almost medieval panoply of fearsome or winsome dangers.
There is a doubting Castle, the Valley of Shadow and Vanity Fair, all of which the pilgrim must pass. “13 There are also places in the novel, where the story goes beyond allegory and turns into pure narrative. An example of this is when unyan describes places such as the Slough of Despond and Vanity Fair, rather than allegorical, the text becomes a very descriptive narrative. The narrative structure of The Pilgrims Progress is similar to that of Equiano’s Travels as, like all novel, it consists of a beginning, middle and an end.
At the beginning, Christian is in search of the truth; he then decides to go on a journey to an eternal city, The Celestial City. On his way he meets a variety of individuals which symbolises what they are named. Finally, he reaches the Celestial City and is relieved of his sins. Both novels show the progress of their characters. For example, both grow to become “good” individuals. The narrative structure of The Pilgrims Progress is also similar to Equiano’s Travels because whilst pm his pilgrimage, Christian faces many obstacles, such as when him and Hopeful are captured and tortured by the Giant of Despair.
They overcome these obstacles too. This can be seen in pages 101 and 102 of the book, where Equiano is challenged as an individual, a character almost. This is because most of the sailors get drunk when stranded on an island and give up, but Equiano uses his initiative; he is portrayed as a very active and responsible slave in this section of the novel, consequently, his reward from god towards the end of the novel is freedom. To further support the idea of victory being achieved through hard work, a literary analyst from the website olaudahequiano. tm, hast said that “the horrors that Equiano is forced to confront do not consume him.
He is able, with a combination of luck, intelligence and hard work, to win. “14 This analyst clearly supports the fact Equiano is a challenging individual. The plot of Equiano’s Travels is set in a logical way. This is quite evident in the novel, as the events are arranged in a sequential pattern by the author. For example, it starts off from Olaudah at a young age his homeland Africa and he grows as a person due to the various horrific events he experiences.
Such as his sale to the West Indies by his master, how he gained freedom and his interest in abolition. It is similar to a historical timeline full of important events. The plot of The Pilgrims Progress is also set in a chronological sequence too, because it is basically about the “conversion of a sinner and his way to heaven,”15 as quoted from the website biblicaltheology. com. It is a tale that consists of eccentric creatures and extreme dangers. Christian’s progress in terms of his character is portrayed through the incidents, which take place in the novel.
This meaning that the basic plot of the novel begins with Christian in doubt in a religious sense; he therefore wants to more away from this doubt and seeks salvation. This is tested through various trails and his reward in the end is a place in heaven. The concept of salvation in Equiano’s Travels, because Equiano changes his religion and his beliefs. He converts to Christianity. This is similar to Bunyan’s novel in that it is a spiritual journey about conversion, as well as slavery.
To support this concept it has been said that Equiano’s conversion “had an impact on the way he structured the story,”16from the website lifeofolaudahequiano. htm. It has also been said, from the same website, that “Equiano wrote his narrative after his conversion to Christianity. “17 The ending of The Pilgrims Progress is quite abrupt, as once the pilgrims arrive at their final destination and achieve admission into the Celestial City, the narrator wakes up and it finishes. “So I awake and behold it was a dream.
It then moves on to the conclusion which asks the reader to interpret Bunyan’s dream, which enables Bunyan to get the morals of the story across to his audience. He directly addresses the reader, for example, “Now reader, I told my dream to thee; see if thou canst interpret it to me. “19 This is similar to Henry Fielding’s novel, Joseph Andrews. However, the ending of Equiano’s Travels is quite long and personal, as he uses first person pronouns ‘I’ and ‘me. ‘ For example, “Every circumstance I have related was to me of importance. “20 He has summarised the novel in a rather lengthy conclusion.
He also addresses the reader, but in a more subtle manner than that of Bunyan. “I have only therefore to request the reader’s indulgence and conclude. “21 It is much more formal compared to Bunyan’s ending. This may be due to the difference between each novel’s readerships. In conclusion, although the stories of both of the novels are different, some of the narrative techniques used by both of the authors are similar to one another. A similarity between the two novels is that they are based upon the idea of struggle, as Equiano struggles for freedom and Christian struggles during his pilgrimage.
Another resemblance between the two novels is that both are based on a notion of self-discovery and regeneration as an individual. Christian does this spiritually and Equiano does this psychologically through the production of his autobiography. Also they are both similar in a sense that they are both influential narratives, but in different contexts. The website gospel. com states that the narrative of The Pilgrims Progress “is larded with many quotes,”22 for example the novel contains references from Isaiah (43:2) in the bible.