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Dune

Main Ideas

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.