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The Train

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

If the House of the Seven Gables represents the past, stagnation, gloom, and rot, what is its opposite? Why, modern technology in the form of the train, of course! The train is gleaming, new, and filled with people constantly exiting and entering. While you can only glimpse people through the arched window at the head of the stairs in the House of the Seven Gables, you can't avoid others on the train: "It was life itself!" (17.11). The train becomes a symbol of Clifford's freedom from Judge Pyncheon's oppression. Instead of being stuck in one place, like the house, it's constantly moving. But even though Clifford enjoys his brief travels on the train with Hepzibah, he admits that he can't keep up this progress forever. Even if homes do come with burdens attached to them, we are not made to never stop. Clifford and Hepzibah go back to the House of the Seven Gables – but they find their lives permanently changed for the better once they get there.

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