Who likes Jessica?

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D Pope
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Who likes Jessica?

Postby D Pope » 10 Sep 2010 13:43

She's smart, pretty, and deadly, she also comes close to being as avoidable as the Harkonnens. I understand the nessesity behind 'terrible desisions' she has to make but given all that Frank wrote about her, is her desision to give Leto a son realistic? That and her offering her life just for Paul to see what the Fremen are made of are her most human acts. The rest of the time she's conniving, manipulating, and a little egocentric. Sure, she does it all for the Atredies, and i'll say she loves Leto so she defies the BG and Paul isn't Paulett. The question about her intentions and giving birth to the KH aren't really explored, "I sensed the possibility," i'm not buying. With all that she has to do even Mohiem exhibits more likeability in the first chapter than Jessica guarding the door. The closest she comes to having a moment where she isn't acting for a paticular effect is when she's interacting with Ghanima & Leto II.
Leto II is gone for good, except for OM. The "pearl" was just that; a miniscule portion of what Leto was, and not a compressed version of the whole. The pearl that the worms have do not make them Leto, or in any way similar to him.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby merkin muffley » 10 Sep 2010 16:42

I think Jessica's flaws are part of why we love her. Sure, she probably sets events into motion that lead to the death of billions of people, but nobody's perfect. I probably wouldn't want to read Dune if everything went according to Bene Gesserit plan.

I guess I'm saying that she's a great character, and she's a great character because she's deeply flawed. Do you mean, "Would I like her if she was a real person?" Yes, she makes huge mistakes, but for very sympathetic reasons. I'd do her.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby D Pope » 10 Sep 2010 17:03

That's not what I mean, your points are indisputable (except for her sympathetic reasons) but her personality makes her feel like a corporate tool. If it weren't for Paul and her dialog with the grandkids she'd have no redeeming qualities at all, she just happened in on the good guys team. Her choice to bear a son boarders on being out of character.
"Would I like her if she was a real person?"

That's what I mean, if you got the chance to talk to her, you'd never be sure why she said anything she said. I guess you could say that about anyone in Dune, maybe not the fremen, but I think it'd be worse with her.

Leto & Ghanima loved Harah & Stilgar. Ganima was sympathetic with Jessica, I think Leto didn't much care for her.
Leto II is gone for good, except for OM. The "pearl" was just that; a miniscule portion of what Leto was, and not a compressed version of the whole. The pearl that the worms have do not make them Leto, or in any way similar to him.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby merkin muffley » 10 Sep 2010 22:25

It's interesting to think about because Jessica's such an interesting character. I think she's unpredictable in a very believable, very "human" way, and I like that her character defies the BG and then goes back to their agenda in CoD.

She is a Bene Gesserit deep down, and that would make her difficult to trust. I remember when I first read Dune, at about the age of 13, and Paul realizes that his mother is contributing to the jihad and is his enemy, and I really identified with that as a squirrelly adolescent. :P

Jessica is definitely a morally ambiguous character who is aligned with negative things a lot of the time. It's an interesting question. :think:

I'm sure I would like her, even if it was bad for me.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby D Pope » 11 Sep 2010 01:01

Well mate, i'm reading Dune again now, it's been far to long. I'll try to come up with some examples.
Leto II is gone for good, except for OM. The "pearl" was just that; a miniscule portion of what Leto was, and not a compressed version of the whole. The pearl that the worms have do not make them Leto, or in any way similar to him.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby merkin muffley » 11 Sep 2010 01:09

D Pope wrote:Well mate, i'm reading Dune again now, it's been far to long. I'll try to come up with some examples.


Cool. I think you could make a very strong case that Jessica is such a flawed person that she would be unlikable, and that it would be very easy for a good person to be in a position to despise her, or see her as an enemy.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby Aquila ka-Hecate » 11 Sep 2010 23:05

I think I would like her.

I see her as a product of a manipulative hierarchical system, rather than manipulative in her essential self.

The last scene redeems much of what she is and could be, when she understands the amount of harm she has caused, through her son.Paul sys something like "There are no innocents anymore" and she replies" Tell that to Chani.

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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby Shaitan » 12 Sep 2010 01:08

It's funny how despite being described in the original novel as "an ugly lump of a man" even without the horrible inkvine whip scar, every on-screen Gurney Halleck has somehow come off as ruggedly handsome and like some kind of Irish musician-warrior that Jessica could hardly help but make sweet, sweet Bene Gesserit love to in the years after the two of them return to Caladan. The inkvine scar is barely noticeable as a small, almost trivial affair because I'm sure the cost/difficulty of portraying it true to the books in a fashion that wouldn't detract from the on-screen experience was prohibitive for both the Hollywood and Syfy productions.

I've had to obsess for decades now over how I want to deliver the experience of my ideas for good science fiction (not sci-fi, for those who understand the implied difference between the two terms), and after many years working with both industries in various jobs as well as being a voracious student of all forms of creative media, I have arrived at the very clear conclusion that both Hollywood and most TV production studios would inevitably crush the soul out of anything ambitious, as it always does. Even the traditional text publishing routes are rife with BS, as I've seen discussed on these forums more than a few times.

But I digress.....we're talking about Jessica.

Who wouldn't want a hot Bene Gesserit cougar?! I found it thoroughly amusing the way that the Syfy "Children of Dune" two-book mash-up played on the sexual tension between Jessica and Farad'n Corrino as she trained him in Prana-Bindu techniques leading toward the "Weirding Way."

I just wouldn't want to have to have Muad'dib as a stepson! Paul Atreides, sure....sounds like a nice young lad. But Muad'dib? Hey man, I like a drum made of your enemy's skin as much as the next guy, but I'd rather not BE the drum, y'know?
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby lotek » 13 Sep 2010 08:16

I think that we should remember the reason why Jessica conceived a son, and that's love for Leto I.
Like most characters in Dune Frank doesn't take a straight manicheist approach to her character, like all humans she's not perfect. (as opposed to the one sided ne'er changing dumbasses in the nudunes)
At the beginning of the series, she's a skilled BG and bound concubine, but her becoming a wild RM must change her.(see Murbella's transformation into BG finalized by the Agony. Do you think that a "wild Agony" would have the same determining effect without all the Sisterhood's influence?)

I think she struggles to balance between the demands of her training and those of her "heart"(just like Paul in that respect)

(check out the final sequence in Dune with Chani "History will call us wives.")
In fact do you think that's pride talking or love in thi quote?
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby inhuien » 13 Sep 2010 10:14

I don't think it's a prideful statement at all, iirc she's trying to comfort Chani at the the time by putting Pauls marriage into some context and prevent her being unduly harmed or aggressive towards Princess Irulan.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby lotek » 13 Sep 2010 10:19

inhuien wrote:I don't think it's a prideful statement at all, iirc she's trying to comfort Chani at the the time by putting Pauls marriage into some context and prevent her being unduly harmed or aggressive towards Princess Irulan.


woups that was exactly my point :)
Must have not expressed it properly!

I think that like all destined to rule in Dune Jessica has been imbued with that noble pride(that Paul, and Leto II will fight to)
And that the Dune final statement was indeed a mark of her humanity and feelings ;)
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby HarryCanyon » 20 Nov 2010 17:42

One of my fave characters in the saga.

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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby Freakzilla » 20 Nov 2010 17:53

lotek wrote:I think that we should remember the reason why Jessica conceived a son, and that's love for Leto I.
Like most characters in Dune Frank doesn't take a straight manicheist approach to her character, like all humans she's not perfect. (as opposed to the one sided ne'er changing dumbasses in the nudunes)
At the beginning of the series, she's a skilled BG and bound concubine, but her becoming a wild RM must change her.(see Murbella's transformation into BG finalized by the Agony. Do you think that a "wild Agony" would have the same determining effect without all the Sisterhood's influence?)


I think it's what forced her back to The Sisterhood. It's OM that defines them as BG. With it one can't be anything but.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby Shaitan » 21 Nov 2010 22:56

Freakzilla wrote:I think it's what forced her back to The Sisterhood. It's OM that defines them as BG. With it one can't be anything but.


Agreed. Certain experiences are so intense and unique that one can't help but be transformed and brought together with others of common experience....
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby Kojiro » 22 Nov 2010 17:31

Yeah, I'd like her. She was a ballsy rebel for a time and in the end you're still not exactly sure where she actually stood. For that, I still like her as I have a soft spot for Machiavellian characters.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby georgiedenbro » 04 Sep 2014 13:14

Jessica and Leto are the most human characters in Dune, I think. Their decision-making was strategic, but their motivation was love. Jessica gave Leto a son out of love, and later risked everything time and time again to give Paul a chance to succeed; not for a cause, not for the BG, not for herself - for love of her son. That they operated through love and loyalty as a guiding force is why the Atreides had so much potential to be a major force. Even Paul, whose perspective we mainly have in Dune, seemed less like his father than did Jessica; more of a tool than a decision-maker. Paul did what he had to, never what he wanted to.

How could I accept that Jessica was flawed in the course of Dune? She was able to break out of the habit trained into her by the BG and made a living, vital decision of her own. Is this not the very kind of freedom that Leto II eventually suffered so long to make possible? He wanted no one to ever be subjected to universal rule again, either to be vulnerable to death en masse, or enslavement en masse. Each person to make his own destiny, not to have it chosen by others.

When the mentality of the day was to look backward for wisdom (the BG) or to look forward (the Guild), it is a good sign of life that someone like Jessica could come out of this system and have the wherewithal to exist in present reality and to give it its due respect. It's probably Leto who made it possible, who drew this out of her, but still I think that Jessica is a remarkable woman, aside from her various specific talents. From what we know, having a strong respect for the present is a BG tenet, and yet they are blocked from doing this fully by their OM, their plans, and their centralized command structure. I think Jessica was an exemplar of what a BG should have been; but her way precludes the ability to so rigidly control fate! The question to be asked is - should the BG have been more in line with their own beliefs about living, or more clear about being long-term planners? Leto II seemed to believe the latter, that they should be less 'like themselves' and more like him, to take up his cause. I guess it all boils down to whether the present is to be sacrificed for the future, or whether the present should take precedence and let the future do what it will. Jessica chose the present, and it's remarkable that Frank could frame it in such a way as to make this choice seem revolutionary :D
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby D Pope » 04 Sep 2014 14:41

I always meat to write more about this, never did...but-

She broke with the BG and had a son-out of love- but still allowed them to potentially pass a death sentence
on Paul in a test that isn't usually administered to men. That takes a different kind of love. Beneath it all,
she has no problem sitting in judgement on her family, less than none for Atreides vassles.

All I meant was that her motivation is questionable because she says and does what will get her through the
moment, with a goal in mind. No lie is too big to tell when you've a greater goal... self preservation, family
honor, and she's really not that cool/smart about it either. Why else side with the BG against Leto II ?

Except for the instances I noted, at the beginning, every facet of her existence was bent toward some
calculated manipulation. During the interview with Mapes she even asks herself why she's bragging (performing for).
When talking to Ghanima, she realizes the only way to get what she wants is to stop with the crap... In other
words, finding herself in a situation she can't fake, she's forced to drop all defenses and hope her grand daughter
agrees with her goal, all the while planning to send Leto on the worm trip. No,mate. She's so bound up in herself
who's to say that she chose to have Paul out of love for her Duke. Likely, she thought without a male heir, she'd
get dumped.

"The hate comes from pains I must never forget, the love..." That's just the basic fact Mohiam says, if I could
finish Jessicas sentence, "it's to get what I want."
Leto II is gone for good, except for OM. The "pearl" was just that; a miniscule portion of what Leto was, and not a compressed version of the whole. The pearl that the worms have do not make them Leto, or in any way similar to him.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby Freakzilla » 04 Sep 2014 16:06

Wow, y'all are harsh! I think she was just hardcore BG. She may have had Paul out of selfish motivation to preserver her Lady status, but keep in mind that she was an adept of the MP, trained to manipulate entire peoples. That probably doesn't wear off after a few years.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby georgiedenbro » 04 Sep 2014 22:49

I don't exactly know what arrangement the BG have with nobles who take from among them as concubines, but I don't think the males have the choice about whether to have sons or daughters, and I suspect they can't just threaten to ship the concubines back to get control over them. That's sort of the whole point - if a duke could just blackmail or threaten the concubine to make her comply then the whole BG breeding system wouldn't work.

That said I suppose I take it from the tone of Jessica's thoughts and from her comments that she had no ulterior motive in having Paul. She said she suspected Paul might be the KH, but I think this was her hoping the BG plan might work after all despite her betrayal. I'm sure there was some vanity in wanting to be the mother of the KH, but still I believe her main motive was love of Leto.

As far as the rest goes, I can't agree that she was anything short of masterful in how she handled the events on Dune. As Freak said, once she became a RM everything changed for her, and the motives behind her behavior would be totally new. I think this is why she seems so different in CoD compared with the first half of Dune.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby D Pope » 05 Sep 2014 11:17

Things changed, method not motive.

Did her instructions regarding Letos education came from a 'For The Empire' mindset
or simple payback justified by high ideals?

Just think about how baffled & envious she is when Paul offers up the coin that buys
the loyalty of Kynes. She labels it naive because honesty is so far from her being that
the concept has no meaning for her.

In short, the only difference I see in Jessica, Dune/CoD, is the resources she can play.
Leto II is gone for good, except for OM. The "pearl" was just that; a miniscule portion of what Leto was, and not a compressed version of the whole. The pearl that the worms have do not make them Leto, or in any way similar to him.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby Freakzilla » 05 Sep 2014 12:43

To be fair, she IS a Harkonnen. :wink:
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby D Pope » 05 Sep 2014 16:15

Freakzilla wrote:To be fair, she IS a Harkonnen. :wink:

:lol: :D :) :( :oops:
Leto II is gone for good, except for OM. The "pearl" was just that; a miniscule portion of what Leto was, and not a compressed version of the whole. The pearl that the worms have do not make them Leto, or in any way similar to him.
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 06 Sep 2014 13:46

D Pope wrote:Just think about how baffled & envious she is when Paul offers up the coin that buys
the loyalty of Kynes. She labels it naive because honesty is so far from her being that
the concept has no meaning for her.

That's a pretty tendentious reading:

"It could be a fault in their education," Paul said. "You say you're not for sale, but I believe I've the coin you'll accept. For your loyalty I offer my loyalty to you . . . totally."
My son has the Atreides sincerity, Jessica thought. He has that tremendous, almost naive honor--and what a powerful force that truly is.
She saw that Paul's words had shaken Kynes.
[...]
"When I say totally," Paul said, "I mean without reservation. I would give my life for you."
"Sire!" Kynes said, and the word was torn from him, but Jessica saw that he was not now speaking to a boy of fifteen, but to a man, to a superior. Now Kynes meant the word.
In this moment he'd give his life for Paul, she thought. How do the Atreides accomplish this thing so quickly, so easily?


Rather than "baffled" and "envious", I would say she's "impressed" and "admiring". To say she doesn't understand honesty is... without basis in the text. (On the contrary, she's too trusting of Dr. Yueh, because she places such immense faith in the essential honesty of the Atreides retainers.)

On the other hand, it's simplistic to say Paul is being "honest" here. (I'm reminded of the quote about politics: "The most important quality for success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made.") Yes, he means what he says, but his offer is also calculated: he has a pretty good idea (or instinct for) what the outcome is going to be, and that it will be in his favor. Just as when he offers his life to Thufir at the end of the book. And if Kynes had lived, do any of us doubt that "loyalty" would be on Paul's terms, interpreted to suit his ambitions?

He was warrior and mystic, ogre and saint, the fox and the innocent, chivalrous,
ruthless, less than a god, more than a man. There is no measuring Muad'Dib's
motives by ordinary standards. In the moment of his triumph, he saw the death
prepared for him, yet he accepted the treachery. Can you say he did this out of
a sense of justice? Whose justice, then? Remember, we speak now of the Muad'Dib
who ordered battle drums made from his enemies' skins, the Muad'Dib who denied
the conventions of his ducal past with a wave of the hand, saying merely: "I am
the Kwisatz Haderach. That is reason enough."

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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby Mr. Melange » 06 Sep 2014 15:46

It seems that maybe you are vilifying the BG too much. Yeah they weren't really doing the BEST job manipulating mankind for the better, but I'de like to believe they were trying. If you buy that, its entirely possible for Jessica to have been an honest and loving person at times, despite a thought process that would appear to us as calculating.

Also in HoD, it was implied that love was only then considered an extremely dangerous practice for a BG. They called it the "Jessica Example" or something, but being many of the BG have the Atreides genes, they would have the memories of Jessica's motivations for having a son.
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Meanwhile, a hobbit named Norma becomes a valar because she dies horribly due to a spider-bite, returns to Middle Earth and walks around a bit, inventing everything interesting you ever hear of in LoTR."
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Re: Who likes Jessica?

Postby D Pope » 07 Sep 2014 11:00

How do the Atreides accomplish this thing so quickly, so easily?

This is Jessicas internal question that set me off, so to speak. I can totally see a manipulative
personality coveting the answer for self serving reasons. And, I completely agree with your
assessment of Pauls motivation (for lack of a better word) for playing this gambit. We, as
readers, can get our head around why it worked so why does Jessica have such a hard time?

Yeah they weren't really doing the BEST job manipulating mankind for the better, but I'de like to believe they were trying.

I think Letos message to the future in the Tabr Hoard sums up my thoughts on BG motivation
during the time of the Prophet, they lacked Noble Purpose! (implying something self-serving
about their cause) Then again, he could just be screwing with their heads, I once looked
straight up and flipped off the sky hoping to get a rise out of an unknown satellite image analyst.




I'll admit that I may be reading my own prejudice into the text but I would like to know if
you can see my point. Other memory from Heretics & Chapterhouse' time makes a strong
argument against mine but I could (weakly) point out that they may simply be in the same
boat. I guess I just want to know that I'm not completely off base, remember that for the
first few years after reading Dune, the one thing I couldn't stop thinking about was how these
whims of the powerful affected the commoners.
Leto II is gone for good, except for OM. The "pearl" was just that; a miniscule portion of what Leto was, and not a compressed version of the whole. The pearl that the worms have do not make them Leto, or in any way similar to him.
-Omphalos


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