Dune's Bene Gesserit Explained - VRGyani News and Media

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Friday, September 24, 2021

Dune's Bene Gesserit Explained

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune takes time to introduce a rich universe filled with wonder and danger, making it a worth adaption of Frank Herbert’s original novel. However, as with any enduring fantasy saga, Dune is filled with political struggle, powerful objects, and mysterious forces that hide in the shadows. And no power in Villeneuve’s Dune is as mysterious as the Bene Gesserit, a sacred sisterhood that acts as one of the most prominent political players of the Known Universe. While Villeneuve does what he can to introduce this dangerous secret society, watching Part One of Dune might not be enough to fully understand the reach of the Bene Gesserit, their supernatural powers, and their ultimate goal. That’s why we put together a handy guide with all you need to know about the Bene Gesserit and why their role in Villeneuve’s adaptation is so crucial for the story.

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The Bene Gesserit Powers and Influence

The Bene Gesserit are a sisterhood of powerful women often referred to as “witches” due to their impressive powers. While the Bene Gesserit powers might seem supernatural, they are actually the fruit of years of intensive training. Each Bene Gesserit candidate pushes her body and mind to the limit in order to achieve a higher level of consciousness. While Villeneuve’s Dune doesn’t refrain from showing how cruel the Bene Gesserit rituals can be, the film doesn’t have the time to underline how the sisterhood’s powers also come from the spice, the drug extracted from the sands of desert planet Arrakis.

While the Bene Gesserit have many powerful tools at their disposal during Herbet’s book saga, the film focuses on just a couple of these powers to properly introduce them to newcomers. First, the movie clarifies that the Bene Gesserit share some kind of collective consciousness, being able to access the knowledge of other members of the sisterhood. It’s also shown that the Bene Gesserit are Truthsayers, capable of pointing out lies told by any person. It’s no wonder prominent political figures on the Imperium, such as the Padishah Emperor, keep the Bene Gesserit close by, using their powers to uncover their enemies.

Even though the Bene Gesserit powers are vast, the tool that plays an essential part in Dune’s events is The Voice, a way of speaking that can force anyone who listens to take any desired action. In Dune, Lady Jessica (Jessica Ferguson) teaches her son Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) how to use The Voice, a power usually reserved for the Bene Gesserit and that should never be taught to men. Nevertheless, the Bene Gesserit have reason to believe Paul is the Kwisatz Haderach, a prophetized male wielder of their powers that could lead the Known Universe to an age of enlightenment. However, this prophecy is not originated in superstition, as it has defined a millenary path of action the Bene Gesserit took to control the universe.

‘Dune’ and the Bene Gesserit’s Prophecy

While outsiders can see the Bene Gesserit as a mystic sisterhood, the reality is that the secret society has specific political plans they act upon for many generations. That’s why the training of the Bene Gesserit ensures each member of their sisterhood puts her duty above any sort of bond they could potentially have with other people or political forces. So, patiently, they have been shaping the Known Universe from the shadows. They can still control great leaders’ actions to achieve their goals, never taking the spotlight in any political dispute.

The ultimate goal of the Bene Gesserit is to bring to life a male capable of sharing their collective memory. While all the Bene Gesserit can tap into the genetic memory of their female ancestors, their lack of a Y chromosome prevents them from having the same access to their male ancestors. So, a male individual capable of mastering the Bene Gesserit’s arts could become the most powerful being in the universe. That’s why, for centuries, the Bene Gesserit have been breeding the perfect individual. Thus, the prophetized Kwisatz Haderach is not a chosen one born by fate but instead a genetic milestone the Bene Gesserit has been aiming for with their selective breeding. Also, it’s essential to notice that the sisterhood does not want to give its power away when this man is born, but to use this perfect male construct as a tool to take control of the Known Universe.

During the events of Dune, the Bene Gesserit are not entirely sure that Paul Atreides is the Kwisatz Haderach, as Lady Jessica didn’t follow the sisterhood orders in his conception. Lady Jessica was supposed to birth a girl, but was self-convinced she could mother the Kwisatz Haderach. So lady Jessica trained Paul from birth to master some of the Bene Gesserit abilities, hoping her leader, the Reverend Mother, would accept him as a Kwisatz Haderach candidate. In Dune, the Bene Gesserit accepts to support Paul during his time in Arrakis. For many years, the Bene Gesserit fed local beliefs that a savior would come to lead the native people of Arrakis to paradise. This savior, or Mahdi, would save Arrakis from the oppression of the Imperium and, according to whispers planted by the Bene Gesserit, would come from another planet. When Paul arrives in Arrakis, he’s greeted by the locals as the Mahdi, a reception he knows is the work of the Bene Gesserit. By convincing Arrakis’ natives that Paul is the Mahdi, the Bene Gesserit wants to make it easier for the young Atreides to mingle with the Fremen and become an authority among the desert people.

The Bene Gesserit wants Paul to take control of Arrakis and, in doing so, start a revolution that’ll lead him to the control of the Known Universe. After all, those who control the spice have the Imperium in their hands. This political strategy would allow the sisterhood to finally be in power, as Paul was theoretically raised to be a part of their secret society. During Dune’s events, the Bene Gesserit are still playing the long game, but their final victory might be at reach, after many centuries of subservience and sacrifice. Unfortunately, Dune ends long before Paul can become any kind of leader. Still, a possible Part 2 of Villeneuve’s epic adaptation will undoubtedly bring the sisterhood back, as all political players keep fighting each other to control the spice.

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