The Scarlet Letter

Explain the reference to laughter in Dimmesdale's statements: "I have laughed, in bitterness and agony of heart, at the contrast between what I seem and what I am! And Satan laughs at it!"

Chapter 17

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Dimmesdale no longer laughs in happiness. His laughter is tainted with regret, guilt, and sin. Dimmesdale's soul is in agony and the laughter he describes has a tone of mocking and damnation in it.