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A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens

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In A Tale of Two Cities, what is Tellson's Bank's attitude towards change?

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We are first introduced to Tellson´s Bank in Chapter 1 of the second section of the novel, "The Golden Thread". The description we are given of Tellson´s Bank is worthy of some study, and you will find the answer to your question there.

It is described as "old-fashioned" twice in...

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the first paragraph, and then the second paragraph gives us a key indicator as to their attitude towards change:

Any one of these partners would have disinherited his son on the question of rebuilding Tellson´s. In this respect the House was much on a par with the Country; which did very often disinherit its sons for suggesting improvements in laws and customs that had long been highly objectionable, but were only the more respectable.

Thus Tellson´s Bank is established as an institution that clings to the past and will not "improve" in any way. The description we are given of its interior is funny in the uncomfortableness of its environs. Upon entering Tellson´s Bank, we are told, you come to your senses in a "miserable little shop", with the "dingiest of windows" and customers who need to see "the House" they are made to wait in the most "dismal twilight" contemplating their lives as if it were a prison. The general description is of squalor and old age, for we are told:

When they took a young man into Tellson´s London house, they hid him somewhere till he was old. They kept him in a dark place, like a cheese, until he had the full Tellson flavour and blue-mould upon him.

Whilst this description of the "maturing process" of Tellson´s workers is funny, it contributes to the overall picture of an extremely traditional institution that is definitely not open to new ideas or change.

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In A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, how is Tellson’s bank affected by the Revolution?

In Chapter 24 of Book the Second, Dickens writes with witty understatement,

Monseigneur, as a class, had dissociated himself from the phenomenon of his not being appreciated:  of his being so little wanted in France, as to incur considerable danger of receiving his dismissal from it, and this life together.

Fearing for their lives, the aristocrats of France have fled across the English Channel.  Since Tellson's Bank has both a Paris branch and the bank in London, some of these aristocrats, who have come to England, have transferred their funds to the London bank. But, even the ones who are "without a guinea haunted the spot where his guineas used to be."

As was natural, the head-quarters and great gathering-place of Monseigneur, in London, was Tellson's Bank....Moreover it was the spot to which such French intelligence as was most to be relied upon, came quickest....Tellson's was at thtat time, as to French intelligence, a kind of High Exchange....so numerous that Tellson's sometimes wrote the latest news out in a line or so and posted it in the Bank windows, for all who ran through Temple Bar to read.

Because Tellson's Bank has served these aristocrats in Paris, it extends courtesy to them in London.  In addition, those who have lost their money know that the wealthy aristocrats have funds in Tellson's, so they come in hopes of charity. In addition, it is the place of sanctuary for the aristocrats where they commiserate and learn information.

Of course, this setting is one which delights the pretentious Stryver who shoulders his way among the Monseigneurs who discuss the state of affairs. It is at Tellson's Bank that the letter for Charles Darnay arrives in hopes that among the aristocrats who gather there, Monsieur d'Evremonde will be there to receive the desperate missive of Gabelle.

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