The Bene Gesserit

As a teen, one of my favorite sagas to read was the Dune books. Author Frank Herbert has created a fantastic universe where he introduced many interesting concepts that dealt with religion, politics, and the human Genome. For my project #2, I would like to explore the ideas and themes behind a specific group, the Bene Gesserit (BG). Considered witches by some, these women are trained from an early age in the ways of the BG. These women have powers such as the Other Memory, The Voice, and their breeding program which has been secretly conducted for thousands of years. The goal of my paper would be to explore the theme of control that the BG uses, such as how they manipulate those in power, as well as the masses. From the works we’ve looked at this semester, i have found that there are many similar themes that can be related to this sect of individuals. I was thinking about perhaps comparing some of the ideas to other texts we’ve read, but only in small areas, as i would prefer to focus on this universe.

This universe had a feudal system of government, and had a strong Religious tone to it. The BG have actually made it known that other religions have been absorbed into their methods and teachings. A full BG is called a Reverend Mother, who uses a drug concoction using spice which allows them to unlock their other memory, which is all of the past Reverend Mothers.They follow the Missionaria Protectiva which states that when entering different societies/worlds, they use the established religion of that society to protect themselves. Their ultimate goal is to manipulate different people in the effort to create the Kwisatz Haderach, which would be a male version of them.

For reference, i will mainly be using excerpts form the MANY dune books as well as:

Grazier, Kevin R. The Science of Dune: Unauthorized Exploration into the Real Science behind Frank Herbert’s Fictional Universe. Dallas, TX: BenBella, 2008. Print.


3 thoughts on “The Bene Gesserit

  1. Chris, this is a really great project, and I love that you are applying the themes / skills we’ve worked on this semester together to other texts (especially ones you have already read … it’s great to re-read / revisit texts from different perspectives!).

    One thing to keep in mind is that you will need to do additional research beyond the ‘Dune’ books (primary sources) and the one secondary text (though ‘The Science of Dune’ will be really helpful for you here). Since you’ve chosen to focus on “control” here, you might do some research related to theories of power, control, manipulation (etc.), ones that are not directly related to these books or SF, but that you can then use to inform your analysis of that theme in these particular books..

    • I have been trying to find some official sources, but its very hard to find sources on religion controlling the masses, that are not conspiracy sources. The same can be said for programs conducted by the government. At what point does a source become legitimate? I don’t want to use papers from conspiracy nuts!

  2. Well, you might want to broaden your research scope here. I’m thinking you might find sources related to theories of propaganda, manipulation, control, or power (Foucault’s ‘Discipline and Punish’ and Scott’s ‘Domination and the Arts of Resistance’ are just two works that immediately come to mind) as well as critical discussions of religion (there are many legitimate works discussing the ways in which both religion and government can be means of controlling the masses). Happy to discuss more keyword searches / possible research directions in my office hours if you want. Also, the research librarian are also great resources too.

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