In the Inferno, Beatrice is the object of Dante’s love and the one who, from heaven, graciously arranges for Virgil to escort Dante through Hell. Long before Dante writes the Inferno, he sees Beatrice from afar and, awed by her beauty and virtue, describes the sight of her as a spark of “new life,” a renewal of his Christian faith. Yet Beatrice dies young, and Dante wanders away from his religious commitments into the “dark wilderness” that symbolizes his waning faith. From heaven, Beatrice sees that Dante is lost and sends Virgil to “set him free” by means of the trip through Hell.
She then aids Dante throughout his journey: the thought of her gives Dante courage when he is stopped at the city of Dis, and when Dante finally reaches the entryway to heaven, Beatrice personally appears to guide him. Because the Inferno places Beatrice in Heaven, near God, her aid of Dante represents the grace by which human beings grow spiritually. Beatrice is described as very lovely, with “eyes...flashing brighter than the stars” and an “angel’s voice”; her beauty represents the beauties of heaven and inspires Dante to press forward in his spiritual journey. Ultimately, Beatrice is a compelling symbol of the wonder and power of divine grace.