3. Discuss how and why allegory is used in ‘Everyman’ and ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ to communicate their different religious meanings.
Published roughly two centuries apart, ‘Everyman’ and ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ are two very different, yet highly similar pieces of religious literature. Laying a great deal of emphasis on “salvation through good works and sacraments” (Lecture), the late medieval play ‘Everyman’ is a profound piece of Catholic work with strong religious purpose. Everyman’s search for a companion on his journey towards death, and his encounter with different characters reflects on his moral views and attitude towards his religion. As a form of morality play, the plot is set to teach something about the human condition.
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As Calvinists believed in the notion of “sovereign grace”, humans are in the total mercy of God. God condemns all human beings for their sins but at the same time, chooses to be merciful to some – the “elect”, pardon their sins and admits them into heaven (Calvinism). In Christian’s pilgrimage to Celestial City, he enters the wicket gate and sets off on his journey. Along the way, he comes into contact with a lot of other different characters who either enter through an alternate route or at some other point on the path. However, most of the people he met on the way fail to reach Celestial City. This mirrors the idea of strict predestination in Calvinism – entry into heaven is wholly due to God’s divine intervention and only those who fall under God’s “sovereign grace” are predestined to be saved from damnation (Calvinism). Human beings are granted and denied entry into heaven according to God’s own will, regardless of any human actions. Salvation for an individual was thus, in total dependence of God alone. Salvation was not meant for every man. With this in mind, the central character in ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’, Christian, consequently stands for the individual - the “elect” who is predestined to receive sovereign grace from God. Even though other characters may go on the same path as Christian, however, if they were not predestined for salvation, any attempt or action