Explaining the World of ‘Dune’


Photo Credit: Phoenix News Time

Makayla Monreal, OwlFeed Lifestyle Reporter

Bene Gesserit? The Emperor? Kwisatz Haderach?

Did you understand what these terms mean? No? Well, I am here to tell you that it all ties into the complex and interesting storyline of ‘Dune,’ the famous sci-fi novel series that was recently adapted into a movie. 

Taking place in the year 10,191, the movie begins when the Atreides family are asked to move to the desert planet Arrakis and take over mining operations of the spice melange from House Harkonnen and it all goes south from there. The outlining of the movie along with terms and concepts will be explained here.

The setup of Dune is very complex. It’s set thousands of years into the future and each planet is led by a different family (house). These houses are all brought and led together by Emperor Shaddam IV Corrino.

The Bene Gesserit

The Bene Gesserit, who have been around for thousands of years, are a group of all women who play a major role in the religious, social, and political life across the whole empire. The Bene Gesserit are women with superhuman abilities, possessing spiritual and mental capabilities that the average person cannot possess. They get the ability by selective breeding, their ultimate purpose being to produce the Kwisatz Haderach, a male superhuman who is the almighty being that has infinite knowledge.

The House of Atreides

Sent by the Emperor, the House Of Atreides sets up a base on the planet Arrakis to obtain a more impartial and fair ruling over the planet, unlike the House of Harkonnen. Unbeknownst to the Atreidas family, the House of Harkonnen have pre-planned an attack to take over the planet of Arrakis again. 


The planet of Arrakis, however, is borderline inhabitable, with lethal heat, halucengetic sand that floats through the air, scarce water, and deadly sandworms that sense all noises and movement. The Fremen, who are the people that live on Arrakis, are able to survive because of their beliefs of Messiah, which is a god who they think will restructure Arrakis one day. If it weren’t for the spice that makes this planet valuable and necessary, this planet would have been forgotten to say the least. 


Arrakis is known for the spice melange, aka a fictional psychedelic drug. Without it the empire would fall. The spice has many purposes, but the main purpose of the spice is to lengthen the human lifespan. It also is used in space travel, foods, and is a sign of wealth.

Lady Jessica

Lady Jessica is a woman of the Bene Gesserit who is pretty much a mistress to Leto Atreides, who is the ruler of Caladan and later Arrakis. Being a Bene Gesserit and a higher ranking one at that, she trains her son Paul Atreides while his father trains him as a mentat, which is basically a human machine who can calculate at a rapid speed. Initially, Lady Jessica was supposed to have daughters ordered by the Bene Gesserit, but she went against these orders and had a son.

Due to her refusal to obey orders, the Kwisatz Haderach was born earlier than planned, with Paul destined to be the Kwisatz Haderach.

Paul Atreides

The whole story of Dune follows the life of Paul Atreides. He is destined to change the course of the universe. Like many other heroes, Paul is “The One,” basically a messiah-type character who people have been waiting for and anticipating for his arrival for great change. Like talked about before on how he is the Kwisatz Haderach, Paul knows he is the Kwisatz Haderach, but he resists because he can foresee the bloody war that will happen in the universe as a result of his rise in power.

This is all you need to know when you watch the movie dune or if you want to read the book, it will help your understanding of this very complex universe. Even as the writer of this story I didn’t understand what was going on half the time I was watching the movie, so hopefully from this it will help a little.