Study Guide

Dune Fear

By Frank Herbert


Fear comes from a variety of sources in the Dune universe. It's actually scary just how many things the characters must be fearful of in their day-to-day existence. At the same time, fear isn't something to fear in Dune. You read that right. Those who fear fear are ultimately destroyed by it. Meanwhile, those who accept their fear, those who let it "pass through" them, can make a tool of fear. They can learn from it to better themselves. They can use it against their enemies. Paul's coming-of-age journey connects the idea of overcoming fear with the idea of growing up (see "Coming of Age" for more).

Questions About Fear

  1. The Bene Gesserit have that awesome mantra to deal with fear. Do you see any non-Gesserit trained characters dealing with fear in the novel? Who are they, what do they do, and how well do they succeed? What does this character's struggle suggest to you about the theme of fear?
  2. Who would you say is the most fearful character in Dune? Who would you say is the least fearful character? Compare and contrast these characters, noting their attitude toward fear as well as their failures and successes in managing it. Does this comparison reveal anything about the nature of fear in the novel? Why or why not?
  3. Religion, economics, politics, the military: choose the one you believe produces the most fear in the characters. Why did you choose the one you did? How are the characters affected by the fear produced by your choice?

Chew on This

Alia Atreides is the only character in Dune who fears absolutely nothing.

The sandworms are full-fledged characters in Dune. Yes, they are, and their characteristic motivation is none other than fear—fear for their young, fear for their lives, and fear of losing their ecology.