Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Melange, the spice drug, is found in limited quantities on the planet Arrakis and mined by the Fremen. Dune was written in the early 1960s, when drug experimentation was beginning to enter the mainstream consciousness of America. Dune explores the concept of drugs as a way of opening “the doors of perception,” a phrase penned by the poet William Blake that Aldous Huxley used as the title of a book about his experiments with hallucinogens. Consuming melange, which is highly addictive in large quantities, allows Paul to see through time and to perceive the future.
As a symbol, melange represents the untapped potential of human perception and brainpower. Melange allows Paul to achieve the greatest heights of his power and awareness. Melange is a costly crutch, however. Melange is highly addictive in large quantities, and Paul cannot survive without great quantities of it. The more he takes, the less the drug affects his awareness, and so he requires greater and more concentrated doses. Melange may open the “doors of perception,” but its addictive force binds its users to the drug .
The Fremen refer to blood as “the body’s water,” suggesting that the Fremen view water as the blood of the environment. When Thufir Hawat agrees to join the Fremen, he enters the “bond of water,” rather than a blood oath or blood brothers. People show their loyalty to each other by spitting or sharing water. Paul and Jessica, during their time with the Fremen, engage in countless rituals that involve water. For example, Paul accepts the water of Jamis’s corpse after he kills him. After drinking this water, Paul is baptized into the culture of the Fremen, and he is reborn as a leader in their world. For the Fremen, water and life are one and the same.