How does Tellson's Bank epitomize English complacency in A Tale of Two Cities?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tellson’s Bank epitomizes English complacency because it is old, crusty, dusty, inefficient and stuck in time, yet the people there seem to like it that way.

Tellson’s is an old monster, sitting in the middle of its web of connections and making little effort anymore.  This is similar to how Dickens thought of England, resting on its laurels, not making any effort to advance or improve, or even realize the world was changing.

Lorry comments that Tellson’s bank might be “a hundred and fifty” years old, and had been flourishing for a long time (Book 1, ch 4).  It had changed little

It was very small, very dark, very ugly, very incommodious. It was an old-fashioned place, moreover, in the moral attribute that the partners in the House were proud of its smallness, proud of its darkness, proud of its ugliness, proud of its incommodiousness. (Book 2, ch 1)

Dickens describes Tellsons’s as “triumphant perfection of inconvenience” because it was so difficult for anyone to get anything done there.  Yet the employees perpetuate this inefficiency, and do nothing to make things any easier for their customers.  They do not respect their customers.  Even employees who go into the bank as young men seem to be hidden away until they are old men.  Nothing changes, and they see no need to change.

Dickens warns in the opening paragraph that his tale of the French Revolution is a cautionary one.  Tellson’s is a perfect example of how some people get fat off of others’ hardsgips, ignoring the suffering of the masses.  This is dangerous.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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