In the novel Hard Times, why does Dickens declare that Coketown's very existence is a wonder?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Book II, Chapter 1 of Hard Times, Charles Dickens says of Coketown, "the wonder is, it was there at all."  By saying this, he is criticizing and satirizing the attitudes of the bosses of the factories in Coketown.

What he is criticizing is their total opposition to having any government laws regulating their businesses or being asked to allow their child workers to go to school or being asked to not emit so much smoke into the air.  He says that every time they were asked to do something like that they'd say they'd rather throw all their property in the ocean.

So he's saying that if doing those things would threaten their businesses, their businesses must be very fragile and it was a wonder they could still be there.

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