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 Equianos Travels and The Pilgrims Progress clearly support this theory.

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Scott Francis

Introduction to Narrative:

“There is much more to the telling of a story than simply listing what happens”

Compare and Contrast the Narrative Methods of any two texts Studied in for this unit.

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.”

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, as a “work on the conversion of a sinner and on his way to heaven in the form an allegory.”

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 , 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.” 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.” Similar to this is the narrative of Equiano’s Travels, as it has been described as a “spiritual autobiography” by novel analyst Adam Potkay in his book Olaudah Equiano and the Art of the Spiritual Autobiography.

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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, ...

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