ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Hero of Dune

Updated on February 11, 2020
satomko profile image

Seth Tomko is a writer, college-level educator, and adventurer.

cover the the ebook version of Dune
cover the the ebook version of Dune | Source

Muad’Dib as an Archetype

The protagonist of Frank Herbert’s Dune and the choices made by Paul Muad’Dib Atreides are best understood in the context of Joseph Campbell’s heroic monomyth. In this light he is both heroic and humanized.

Paul is called into his epic adventure twice: once to leave his home-planet and again later when he flees for his life into the wilderness of Dune. In both of these circumstances the adventure is pushed upon him and he must accept it—a device frequently used in prophetic stories from various religious traditions. Notice that Moses, Siddhartha the Buddha, and Mohammed each according to religious tradition were forced into their lives as leaders of their faiths through events beyond their control. Prophets rarely choose their role.

As Paul makes his way through the arid wilderness he comes to the attention of Stilgar, the Fremen leader who will become a surrogate father and guide on his path to becoming a legend. Before greatness, though, Paul must become a Fremen, which means accepting their ways and engaging in what Campbell calls a brother-battle. Paul must kill Jamis because tribal rule demands it. In doing so Paul enters into the true adventure of his life and is renamed as a Fremen, Muad’Dib. Because of his genetic lineage and his exposure to the spice he can foresee certain future events making some of his heroic tasks, such as defeating Harkonnen attackers and masterminding the rebellion on Dune easier.

Prescience, however, becomes a variety of weakness in his heroic quest because he seeks perfect foreknowledge. This craving leads to his symbolic death when he ingests the poisonous Water of Life in an attempt to see into different possible futures, wishing to avoid one where he is responsible for the deaths of millions. He is ultimately revived when given enough time by the manipulative actions of his mother, Jessica, and consort, Chani. Upon his revival Paul not only has the superhuman foreknowledge he sought but also the fanatical loyalty of the Fremen who interpret his actions in a religious context. Paul is still a human but the Fremen see him as a messiah who will lead them against their oppressors.

Logo for the Dune film from Villeneuve
Logo for the Dune film from Villeneuve | Source

Long Live the Fighters

Returning to the world stage is accomplished in what Campell calls a “magical flight.” In this instance, Paul rides a Sandworm and leads the Fremen to attack the imperial leaders who have lived for too long on the labor and natural resource of the Fremen. This triumphant return is a resurrection, seeing as Paul was assumed dead by his imperial foes and friends alike. Though his superhuman insight all but assures Paul’s victory here, this is but a secondary climax when compared to the true climax Paul achieved by increasing his awareness and becoming a leader of the Fremen community.

The monomythic circle is complete here. Paul finds personal justice in punishing those who murdered his father, destroyed his family, and left him to die in Dune’s arid wastes. On a personal level he has achieved a leap in human awareness, granting him the ability to foresee the ways he can shape the future. Paul’s victory is also a victory for social justice in that the Fremen are raised up with him into the positions of influence and authority that were denied them by the despotism of the old empire, and now they reap the benefits of their natural resources instead of being exploited for them. Though Dune is a science-fiction story set in the distant future, Herbert’s story is a timeless one, echoing the stories of many other mythic and religious figures and built on mythic patterns such as those explored by Joseph Campbell.

Frank Herbert's Dune Trailer

© 2009 Seth Tomko


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • satomko profile imageAUTHOR

      Seth Tomko 

      8 years ago from Macon, GA

      Thanks, John Sarkis, and I agree that while the ideas and themes in the Dune series are top-notch, they frequently suffer in execution, perhaps because Herbert is trying to do too many things at the same time.

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 

      8 years ago from Winter Haven, FL

      I've always felt that "Dune" had the potential of being the next "Madame Bovary" or "Ulysses," unfortunately Herbert was no Flaubert or Joyce---still, the ideas in "Dune" were actually pretty good, and his use of metaphor wasn't too shabby either...

      Great hub, gave it 'thumbs up'


    • satomko profile imageAUTHOR

      Seth Tomko 

      10 years ago from Macon, GA

      Thank you for the link. I've heard rumors of a remake, and I will remain cautiously optimistic.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      It will be a seond dune movie in 2012.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)