Can someone explain Hawthorne's use of irony and coincidence in the final few chapters???

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the final chapters, Hester is planning to escape by ship with Dimmesdale and Pearl. However, she discovers that "by coincidence", Chillingworth has also booked passage on the same ship. Thus, she and Dimmesdale will not be able to escape alone. The final scaffold scene also contains several ironies. The first is that Chillingworth begs Dimmesdale not to confess. His motivation is that he still wants to punish Dimmesdale secretly. Another irony is that Dimmesdale confesses just as he is to make his escape with Hester. ( No mention is made of Dimmesdale knowing what Hester knows.) Chillingworth soon dies an ,ironically, Pearl inherits Chillingworth's fortune. She is able to do this because of English common law which stated that the child of a married couple is automatically assumed to be that of the husband.
( Of course, the was centuries before DNA testing.) So, legally, Pearl was considered Chillingworth's only child. This enable her to travel back to England witH Hester and marry well. And in the the final irony is that Hester returns to New England and is thought of as an "angel".

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The Scarlet Letter

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