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Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title  · Dune

author  · Frank Herbert

type of work  · Novel

genre  · Science fiction, fantasy

language  · English

time and place written  · America, early 1960s

date of first publication  · 1965

publisher  · Chilton Books

narrator  · The third-person narrator is omniscient and anonymous. Some of the novel’s main characters narrate their own feelings or emotions at different points throughout the book.

point of view  · The narrator maintains a third-person perspective through most of the novel. The narrator is omniscient and provides insight into the thoughts and plans of certain characters while also giving clues to the novel’s social, cultural, and political background. The narration sometimes switches to first-person to reveal specific characters’ inner feelings and motivations.

tone  · The tone is fairly ominous and resigned. A feeling of melancholy pervades the presentation of some characters, particularly Paul. The narrator communicates an overwhelming sense that fate is immutable and that the characters are powerless to change events as they unfold.

tense  · Immediate past, real-time narration

setting (time)  · The future: 10,191

setting (place)  · Arrakis, a desert planet

protagonist  · Paul Atreides

major conflict  · The Harkonnens, led by Baron Harkonnen, want to overthrow the emperor by taking over the melange supply on Arrakis. Paul, from the opposing house of Atreides, works with the Fremen to secure Arrakis and the universe from the greedy Harkonnens.

rising action  · The Harkonnens kill Duke Leto and obliterate the Atreides. Baron Harkonnen uses the emperor’s soldiers to attempt to take control of Arrakis and the melange supply while killing Kynes and Paul’s son.

climax  · Paul and the Fremen succeed in defeating the forces of the emperor and the Harkonnens that are invading Arrakis; Alia kills Baron Harkonnen.

falling action  · Paul arranges a marriage between himself and Princess Irulan, thus securing the imperial throne.

themes  · Religion and power; human control over ecology

motifs  · Inheritance and nepotism; precognition; loyalty; fanaticism

symbols  · melange; water

foreshadowing  · Dune contains many instances of foreshadowing. Paul is constantly foreseeing events, often long before they occur: Paul’s dream in which he is called Usul; Paul’s vision of a jihad. Also, Reverend Mother Mohiam’s warning that Duke Leto will die on Arrakis.