About the Book

Book Protagonist: Paul Atreides, Chani, Alia
Publication Date: 1969
Genre: Action and Adventure, Science Fiction

Themes and Analysis

Dune Messiah

By Frank Herbert

In a twist of the story plot, 'Dune Messiah' brought an unexpected conclusion to the iconic hero of Frank Herbert's 'Dune,' Paul Atreides.

As a book, ‘Dune Messiah’ holds its place as a story that creates the path for the later novels in Frank Herbert’s science fiction masterpiece. Heroes are mortals, but when people begin seeing them as Gods, an inevitable road for doom and destruction is created, a path that leaves a scar on the sands of time.

Dune Messiah Themes and Analysis

Dune Messiah Themes


The importance of Dune Messiah was bringing an ending to Paul Atreides’s story. However, the book focused on the failures of the hero. In ‘Dune,’ Paul was a young boy who led a revolution against the tyranny of the Padishah empire. However, when he ascended the throne as emperor, a jihad got unleashed in his name, leading to the death of 61 billion people.

Though Paul was supposed to be the hero of ‘Dune,’ he became the failed hero of ‘Dune Messiah,’ a hero who got drenched in the stench of his failure as emperor. Frank Herbert used ‘Dune Messiah’ to highlight the negativity of heroism. In his opinion, heroes who fail to recognize their humanity fall into an abyss of desolation forged from the failures they encounter once realism dawns on them.


Religion is one of the main themes in the story of ‘Dune Messiah.‘ Now seen as a messiah by the Fremen, a jihad gets launched on humanity in Paul’s name; this jihad leads to the death of billions of people. ‘Dune Messiah’ shows how deadly religion gets when it has a cause to fuel it. From the novel, Paul admitted that even if he were to disappear or cease to be the Muad’Dib, it would barely affect the jihad because his name was no longer associated with a messiah figure but with a God figure. Frank Herbert used ‘Dune Messiah’ to highlight the dangers of religion if people become fanatically inclined to it.


Taking a rapid turn for the worse, ‘Dune Messiah’ is a sad, depressing story of how a once-powerful hero fell under the weight of his success. Throughout the entire novel, the predominant feeling of regret courses through everyone. However, regret was felt most intensively by Paul Atreides. After defeating his enemies, Paul began to regret ascending the throne as he detested the jihad unleashed in his name. In his statement to Chani, Paul admitted that he failed in setting humanity on the right path, and even with his prescience, he ended up a blind man walking into the desert filled with regret.


Fate is something Paul understood he could not eliminate. From the novel, Paul desperately tries to prevent certain events from happening. However, the will of fate overpowered his prescience. Fate became Paul’s greatest enemy, and it made him watch his entire world crumble, from him getting blind to the death of Chani and to him losing his prescience.

Analysis of Key Moments

  1. Twelve years after Paul Atreides’s ascension as emperor, the death toll of the jihad unleashed in his name peeks 61 billion people.
  2. Paul gains total control of Melange’s production, making him the most powerful emperor to have ever ruled.
  3. Using his prescience, Paul tries to create a golden path for humanity.
  4. The Bene Gesserit, Spacing Guild, and Tleilaxu come together to plot a plan that will lead to Paul’s dethroning.
  5. Reverend Mother Gaius recruits Princess Irulan, Paul’s consort, to work on the inside, and she does by adding contraceptives into Chani’s food, preventing her from conceiving for Paul.
  6. Scytale, the face dancer from the Tleilaxu, brings Paul a gift of Duncan Idaho’s ghola, called Hayt. Paul’s acceptance of Hayt creates a rift between him and the Fremen.
  7. Chani gets pregnant after using a Fremen fertility diet.
  8. Paul discovers a Fremen plot to kill him and confronts his opposition.
  9. Paul gets blinded by a Stone Burner.
  10. Paul tries negotiating Chani’s life in exchange for artificially inseminating Princess Irulan
  11. Chani dies in childbirth, and Hayt attacks Paul but recovers his former self.
  12. Scytale gets killed by Paul.
  13. Bijaz gets killed by Idaho.
  14. Paul loses his prescience.
  15. Paul leaves his new twin babies in Alia’s care and walks into the desert as per the Fremen tradition.
  16. Alia orders the execution of Paul’s enemies, including Reverend Mother Gaius and Edric. However, she spares Princess Irulan.

Style, Tone, and Figurative Language

Using the third-person perspective, ‘Dune Messiah’ is a novel crafted with a near-perfect fluidness and vivid expressionism. The third-person point of view employed by the author ensures an accurate timing of events which causes the plan against Paul Atreides to unfold subtly. With the characters’ thoughts in italics, Frank Herbert created an accurately vivid environment for the interaction of the novel characters. A straightforward and ominous tone made ‘Dune Messiah’ comprehensible and gave depth to the melancholy aspects the story tried to project forward.

For figurative language, Frank Herbert used similes and metaphors to explain events in the novel. From The Reverend Mother describing Paul’s idea of artificially inseminating Princess Irulan as an animal way of breeding to Paul comparing himself to Genghis Khan and Adolf Hitler, ‘Dune Messiah’ used the comparison to create a detailed emotional picture of each character.

Analysis of Symbols


Melange or spice is the most crucial commodity in the ‘Dune’ series. Being a substance that granted its taker youth and enhanced mental abilities, Melange became a commodity that powers fought to get. Paul’s total control over Melange’s production made him the most powerful person in the known universe. Spice represents an addictive element of power that causes feud.


Hayt was a ghola given to Paul by Scytale. Hayt was Duncan Idaho, a man who Paul held in high reverence. Though Hayt got initially commissioned to lead top Paul’s downfall, he ended up regaining his memories and fighting for Paul. Hayt symbolizes the lack of free will.


How did Paul Atreides go blind?

Paul went blind because of a Fremen conspiracy that involved a stone burner. Though Paul survived the explosion, he did not survive the radioactive effects of the stone burner and became blind.

Was Paul a bad guy in Dune Messiah?

Paul Atreides was the hero of ‘Dune Messiah.’ However, the billions of death caused by the jihad in Paul’s name made him an antihero.

Is Paul a Harkonnen?

After defeating Feyd, the title for House Harkonnen got passed down to the next immediate successor, who was Lady Jessica. However, she refused the position, and it went to Paul, who was the last heir in line for the title.

Is Dune Messiah the same as Muad’Dib?

‘Dune Messiah’ tells the story of Paul Atreides after he had become Muad’Dib, the emperor of the known universe and sole controller of Spice production in all of the empire.

Joshua Ehiosun
About Joshua Ehiosun
Joshua is an undying lover of literary works. With a keen sense of humor and passion for coining vague ideas into state-of-the-art worded content, he ensures he puts everything he's got into making his work stand out. With his expertise in writing, Joshua works to scrutinize pieces of literature.
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