“Thus [Soaphead Church] chose to remember Hamlet’s abuse of Ophelia, but not Christ’s love of Mary Magdalene; Hamlet’s frivolous politics, but not Christ’s serious anarchy. He noticed Gibbon’s acidity, but not his tolerance, Othello’s love for the fair Desdemona, but not Iago’s perverted love of Othello. The works he admired most were Dante’s; those he despised most were Dostoyevsky’s. For all his exposure to the best minds of the Western world, he allowed only the narrowest interpretation to touch him. He responded to his father’s controlled violence by developing hard habits and a soft imagination. A hatred of, and fascination with, any hint of disorder or decay.
“At seventeen, however, he met his Beatrice, who was three years his senior.” –Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (1970)
For more on this passage, see Dennis Looney, Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy (University of Notre Dame Press, 2011), pp. 183-188.