The thematic parallel of Paul Atredies and Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in Dune: Part Two

10 April 2024
The exploration of parallels between Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen and Paul Atreides in the cinematic adaptation of "Dune Part 2" offers a fascinating insight into the broader thematic concerns of Frank Herbert's original work, particularly in the context of power, prophecy, and the making of saviors. 

The movie adaptation amplifies these parallels more explicitly than the novels, providing a visually and narratively rich platform to examine the manipulations of higher powers and their impact on individuals destined for greatness, whether genuine or manufactured.

In both the "Dune" novels and the movies, the concept of a manufactured savior, the Kwidast Hidarch,  is central. 

For Paul Atreides, his journey from the heir of a noble family to the Muad'Dib, the messiah of the Fremen, is marked by a series of manipulations by the Bene Gesserit, a secretive sisterhood with their own long-term genetic and political agendas. 

The thematic parallel of Paul Atredies and Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in Dune Part Two

Paul's ascent is partially orchestrated through the Bene Gesserit's Missionaria Protectiva, a program designed to seed myths across the galaxy that could later be exploited by their members.

His mother Lady Jessica nudged things along too. 

Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, on the other hand, is presented as a counterpoint to Paul. 

While not as prominently featured in the first novel or its film adaptations, subsequent narratives and "Dune Part 2" in particular, delve into his role as a "savior" for the Harkonnen interests on Arrakis. 

Feyd is groomed by his uncle, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, to eventually take over the rule of Arrakis, positioning him as a ruler who could potentially be embraced by the populace, despite the brutal Harkonnen regime.

Maybe he would have been Emperor one day. 

An interesting aspect that the movie "Dune Part 2" explores more deeply than the novels is the concept of prescience shared by both Paul and Feyd-Rautha. 

Paul's visions, fueled by his exposure to the spice melange and his Bene Gesserit training, provide him with glimpses of possible futures, a trait that becomes central to his character and the unfolding narrative.

The movie adaptation hints at Feyd possessing a similar foresight, albeit in a more limited capacity, such as dreaming of significant encounters like meeting Count Fenring, which serves to draw a parallel between him and Paul, emphasizing the theme of duality and mirrored destinies.

The film adaptation underscores how both characters, despite their apparent opposition, are pawns in larger schemes. 

Paul's realization of his role as a tool in the Bene Gesserit's machinations and Feyd's position within the Harkonnen's brutal ambitions for Arrakis highlight a shared theme of individuals caught in the web of greater powers. 

This aspect is illuminated in the movie, showcasing how these manufactured saviors, despite their personal powers and destinies, are ultimately serving the interests not of the common people but of those who created and positioned them.

commons themes of paul and fey-raitha in Dune Part 2 Film

This comparison looks at different parts of Paul Atreides and Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen's characters, giving a fuller picture of who they are in "Dune." It covers where they come from, how they think and feel, and what they mean to the story.

Character trait

Paul Atreides

Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen

Place in the World - Family Duty

Heir to House Atreides, expected to lead with honor and justice. His duty is to his family's legacy and to the people under their care, embodying the values of leadership and responsibility.

Heir to House Harkonnen, trained in the art of deception and control. His duty involves continuing the Harkonnen legacy of domination and exploitation, especially over Arrakis.

Attitude to the World

Sees the world as interconnected, with a strong sense of responsibility towards preserving its ecological and cultural integrity.

Views the world as a resource to be exploited for personal and familial gain, showing little regard for its ecological or cultural preservation.

Thematic Parallel

Represents the archetype of a reluctant hero thrust into a messianic role, embodying themes of destiny, sacrifice, and the burden of leadership.

Serves as a dark mirror to Paul, embodying themes of ambition, power without responsibility, and the dangers of unchecked authority.

State of Mind / Mental Health

Struggles with the weight of prophecy, leadership expectations, and the foreknowledge of a bloody future, causing significant stress and internal conflict.

Primarily driven by ambition and a desire for power, with less apparent internal struggle or ethical dilemma compared to Paul.

Leadership Style

Leadership through inspiration, moral integrity, and strategic alliances. Empowers others and seeks to lead by example, aiming for a symbiotic relationship with Arrakis and its inhabitants the Fremen.

Prefers leadership through fear, manipulation, and strength. Feyd is cunning and charismatic, able to inspire loyalty through coercion rather than genuine respect.

Vision for the Future

Envisions a future where Arrakis is transformed and its people are free from oppression, aiming to bring about a broader balance within the universe.

Aims to solidify Harkonnen control over Arrakis and expand their power, prioritizing the family's dominance over the well-being of the planet or its people.

Combat Skills and Strategy

Highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat and strategic warfare, influenced by Mentat training and the Bene Gesserit. Adopts a defensive and thoughtful approach to combat.

Also an exceptional fighter, known for his prowess in the gladiatorial arena. Uses combat as a means to demonstrate strength and instill fear.

Philosophical and Ethical Beliefs

Guided by a sense of duty to others, a belief in the interconnectedness of all things, and the importance of ecological and social balance.

Believes in the power of strength and cunning to achieve and maintain control. Ethical considerations are secondary to the pursuit of power and influence.


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