The Victorians used a mangle to squeeze water from pieces of wet laundry; the machine also helped to smooth out big pieces of cloth, such as tablecloths and sheets.
In A Tale of Two Cities, Mr. Lorry tells Lucie Manette that he compares himself and his job at the bank to a mangle — just an ordinary machine that does its job without feeling:
. . . And you will see how truly I spoke of myself just now, in saying I had no feelings, and that all the relations I hold with my fellow-creatures are mere business relations, when you reflect that I have never seen you since. . . . Feelings! I have no time for them, no chance of them. I pass my whole life, miss, in turning an immense pecuniary Mangle."