Thread: John Bunyan...racist?
April 7th 2007, 09:30 PM #1
I love John Bunyan's writings. Especially Pilgrim's Progress. However, the first time, I read it, I came across a very intriguing passage. It says:
[They had them also to the place where they saw one Fool and one Want-wit washing an Ethiopian, with intention to make him white; but the more they washed him, the blacker he was. Then they asked the shepherds what that should mean. So they told them, saying, Thus it is with the vile person; all means used to get such a one a good name, shall in conclusion tend but to make him more abominable. Thus it was with the pharisees; and so it shall be with all hypocrites.
So, what is going on here? Is this a hint of John Bunyan being racist or is he simply using an Ethiopian as an analogy for the overall greater lesson in the paragraph?
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April 10th 2007, 07:34 PM #2
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Re: John Bunyan...racist?
No. At the time of his writing, this wouldn't be considered racist at all. He is just saying that once something is done (like words that affect a reputation)...you can't change that. Just like someone who is born black, you can't "wash" the black off of them. This in no way means that being black is a lesser state, it simply implies permanency.
Reading with 21st century eyes, we pick up on trigger words and themes. The issue of race is loaded...and someone could never use this example nowadays. This does not mean that John Bunyan is a racist. Whether he is or not ...this passage is not implying a racist motive.
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