What role does Beatrice play in the poem?  Does her sex, and her identity as a woman Dante knew personally, contribute to or detract from her role?

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Beatrice is the source of redemption that exists.  Dante struggles to find his spiritual identity.  Dante casts Beatrice as the representation of divine love.  She is the source of earthly goodness who expresses worry and concern for his journey.  While she has died, Dante is able to use her image as a representation that good does exist.  Dante has Beatrice implore Virgil to guide him because he is lost.  In order for him to embark on his pilgrimage, Virgil assumes his guide because Beatrice has begged him to do so.

Beatrice is the embodiment of that which is pure and a love that is transcendent. She is both of this world and beyond it.  Beatrice is the representation of what is possible.  Amidst the sin and transgression that exists in the Inferno, Beatrice stands apart from it, literally, as a reminder to Dante that there can be unity and symmetry in this life.  Beatrice displays concern for Dante, and this is a source of strength for him.  It enables Dante to have courage...

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