Galloway 1 Andrew Galloway English 279 S.

Covell 27 February 2006 Dune Essay The Way of the Mouse During the course of the novel, Paul-Muad’dib Atreides matures and transforms through experiences few would care to partake in. Young in age, yet far beyond his years in wisdom and maturity, Paul is a superhuman bred for incomparable greatness and thus was born into the universe ready for every trial thrown at him in his lifetime. Through every ordeal and hardship he endures, he completes another step of his transformation into the Kwisatz Haderach, the one intended to ensure the survival of the human race, the savior of mankind. A short while before leaving for Arrakis, Paul is confronted by the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. She commands Paul to place his right hand inside of a small box and says: “A duke’s son must know about poisons. . . . Here’s a new one for you: the gom jabbar. It kills only animals” (Herbert 8). “Animals”, for this intent and purpose, refers to a being that reacts only to instinct and basic emotions, as opposed to a “human,” one who utilizes logic and self-awareness to override instinct. Paul recognizes the basic emotion of fear, and uses a Bene Gesserit mantra to countermand his instinct to withdraw his hand from the box: I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and

Galloway 2 through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain (Herbert 8). Paul is able to withstand the fierce onslaught of excruciating pain that the box produces, proving him to be human in the Reverend Mother’s eyes, and ultimately, the potential Kwisatz Haderach. When the Atreides leave Caladan for the desert planet Arrakis, Paul is well aware that life on their new home will pose many difficulties and hardships. Nevertheless, he is profoundly altered from the person he was by the trials he endures on Dune. Intense and prolonged exposure of mélange stimulates a strong precognitive sense in Paul. Combined with his Bene Gesserit influenced genetic heritage and his lifelong Bene Gesserit and mentat training, the spice also provides Paul with a sense of awareness heightened above and beyond any human before him. As Paul and his mother, the Lady Jessica, wait concealed in the stilltent after the raid on Arakeen, Paul’s capabilities become shockingly apparent, the suddenness of which frightens his mother, a Bene Gesserit herself. Though Jessica’s own Bene Gesserit training provides her with reasoning powers far greater than normal women her age, Paul’s ability to reason the truths of his universe surpasses her own on a level even the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam could not match. When Jessica realizes the truth behind Dr. Yueh’s betrayal, Paul thinks to himself, “She is only now seeing it and that poorly.” “The thought was a shock. He had known this fact as a by-the-way thing” (Herbert 188). Moments later, after discussing the chances of the survival of the Atreides Clan:

Galloway 3 Jessica turned away, frightened of the bitter strength in her son’s voice, hearing the precise assessment of chances. She sensed that his mind had leaped ahead of her, that it now saw more in some respects than she did. She had helped train the intelligence which did this, but now she found herself fearful of it (Herbert 190). In her eyes, her son had become the very thing that the Bene Gesserit had been striving for, the “shortening of the way,” the Kwisatz Haderach. Paul however, saw things differently. “As though he saw inside her mind, Paul said: ‘[The Bene Gesserit] thought they were reaching for me. But I’m not what they expected, and I’ve arrived before my time. And they don’t know it’.” He spoke to Jessica, “You're thinking I’m the Kwisatz Haderach. Put that out of your mind. I’m something unexpected” (Herbert 198). Every aspect of the Bene Gesserit plan was revealed to Paul, even the unintended consequences bred from the actions of the Bene Gesserit. As Paul struggled with the foresight of an unstoppable future of bloody war in his name: He found that he no longer could hate the Bene Gesserit or the Emperor or even the Harkonnens. They were all caught up in the need of their race to renew its scattered inheritance, to cross and mingle and infuse their bloodlines in a great new pooling of genes. And the race knew only one sure way for this—the ancient way . . . jihad (Herbert 199). In addition to his ability to see the possible futures, Paul has something more. “I have another kind of sight. I see another kind of terrain: the available paths” (Herbert 194). The great concern now is to take every action possible to prevent the jihad that plagues his

Galloway 4 prescience. Paul’s newfound awareness gives him an understanding of things with such an astounding clarity that even kanly1 with the Harkonnens loses its significance. Before leading the Fremen in the raid on Arakeen, Paul drinks the Water of Life, the resulting substance formed by drowning a maker worm in water. The liquid is poison to all but Bene Gesserit witches and the one male being that strict Bene Gesserit influenced breeding seeks to create. After awaking from the drug induced sleep, he commands his mother to show him the place that no Bene Gesserit witch may go. At tremendous risk to his own life, Paul enters a trance in which he seeks out and confronts a certain darkness that all Bene Gesserit witches are terrified of. In doing this, he authenticates his place as the Lisan al-Gaib, and the Kwisatz Haderach. Paul, aware now of his purpose in the universe, leads the Fremen in the final raid on Arakeen. In an easy victory over the Harkonnens, Paul takes his rightful place in command as the Duke of Arrakis, seizing control of the galaxy’s most valuable trade, the space flow, and consequently becoming the most powerful man in the galaxy, the new emperor. Paul Atreides transforms from the Duke’s son, a mere boy, inexperienced and in need of looking after, into the Duke himself. He leaves the privileged life of an innocent young man for the disadvantaged life of a leader, a killer, and the savior of all of mankind. He becomes more than a man, he becomes “the shortening of the way,” Paul Muad’dib.


“Formal feud or vendetta… carried on according to the strictest limitations” (Herbert 522).

Galloway 5 Works Cited Herbert, Frank. Dune . New York: Berkley Publishing Corporation, 1980.