Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This analysis of John Bunyan’s language demonstrates that although he wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678; 1684) in a simple style for uneducated readers, his control of the English language was far from unsophisticated. His vocabulary, eschewing recent and learned loans, ensured that the literal level of his narrative was accessible even to inexperienced readers and listeners. Disentangling normal features of contemporary language from stylistic archaism reveals how the Bible speaks through Bunyan’s work. Using biblical language not only raised the tone of The Pilgrim’s Progress, but also allowed Bunyan to habituate his readers to linguistic features that might otherwise have been off-putting when they turned to the Bible for themselves. Differences between Part I and Part II of The Pilgrim’s Progress indicate that the grammar and syntax became increasingly reflective of the language of the Bible, although in other respects Bunyan moved towards a closer representation of contemporary spoken idiom.

Keywords: John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress, language, archaism, Bible

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.