Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/7298
The Bene Gesserit in Frank Herbert's Dune. An Analysis
The following is a work of literary analysis involving Frank Herbert’s Dune, which is the first published tome of what later became known as the Dune Chronicles. The Chronicles comprise six books authored by Frank Herbert many of which are referred to here, but this work centres only on Dune.
This literary analysis focuses on the Bene Gesserit, an organization of women which plays a large part in the development of Herbert’s novel. The main objective of the discussion is to describe this conglomerate of characters and analyse it as one single collective character with its own story and its own characteristics in order to expand the understanding of Dune.
Although much work about this science fiction novel exists today, the implications of the Bene Gesserit have not been adequately discussed. There are critics who condemn Herbert’s depiction of women in his universe based on the comparison of power between the novel’s protagonist hero, Paul Atreides and his Bene Gesserit counterparts. Another important tendency in Dune criticism is the inaccurate view that limits the understanding of the Bene Gesserit as a religious organization, although Dune itself provides readers with evidence to the contrary.
In this essay, these academic positions are explored and analysed. Then it proceeds to a brief comparison of Dune and the Monomyth structure proposed by Joseph Campbell, which is useful in the analysis of this novel’s characters. Then follows an analysis describing the Bene Gesserit as a character in Aristotelian terms of tragedy, and it concludes with commentary about the main Bene Gesserit sisters that appear in Dune, which has as its goal to present them as the actors through which the Bene Gesserit as an organization can be seen and through which Herbert establishes reason versus emotion as central to Dune’s plot.