William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act V, Scene vi.

All in places as from Scene v.


PAUL (aside): I see a face betrayed to me by time,
Harkonnen’s heir, with lean and hungry look
Exceeding aught his bloated uncle wore.
Yet more disquieting is he whose face
I never saw upon the webs of time.
I mind me though I many times have seen
Mine own dead corpse a-lying on the floor,
I never saw the instant of my death
Nor him who was the author of my end.
(to JESS) Who is he standeth by the Truthsayer
The evil-looking man with rabbit’s eyes?

JESS: That Count Fenring is, who ruled this place
Before Atreides came. Genetically
He is a eunuch, and can get no child,
And is a deadly fighter, by all counts.

PAUL (aside): Hath time denied my killer’s face to me?
Alone of all th’assembled, him I fear.
(to GURN) I see among them Thufir Hawat’s face.
Let him stand free of them and call him up.

GURNEY gestures, and THUFIR is passed through the lances.

THU: O Lady Jessica, I have but learned
This day how I have wronged you in my thoughts.
You need not give forgiveness undeserved.

PAUL: O Thufir, friend of youth, look now and see
My back is toward no door, as thou hast taught.

THU: The universe hath doors beyond all count.

PAUL: Am I my father’s son become in truth?

THU: More like his father’s son; thou hast his eyes
And manner of him, as my youth recalls.

PAUL: And I am my father’s son in truth,
For I do say to thee, that for thy years
Of service to Atreides, you may ask
Of me to grant thee any thing you wish,
And thou shalt have it. Dost thou need my life?
It is thine to be taken. Waver not.
I mean it Thufir, if thou art to strike,
Then strike me now, and do so without sin.

THU: I but desired to stand before the man
Who is my Duke in truth a final time.

PAUL: Art thou in pain, old friend?

THU:                                                   There is much pain.
But as to joy as stars are to the sun.
See, Majesty, thy traitor’s needle here.
Didst thou believe that I, who gave my life
Entire in service to Atreides’ house
Would at the moment of my death give less?

THUFIR dies. PAUL signals, and FREMEN carry away the body in silence.

PAUL: Your Majesty, thy valiance is revealed.

SHAD: Perhaps my royal kinsman doth conceive
That he hath won some noted victory
That might compel the notice of the great.
And naught could be remoter from the truth.
You have the Great Convention’s primal law,
The edict that doth leash atomic fire,
Defied, and made a forfeit of thy world.

PAUL: Atomics I unleashed on lifeless rock,
That stood betwixt thee and my just desire
To see thee and demand a just account
Of many of thy strange activities
That have concerned my family and world.

SHAD: This force is not a tithe of all my strength.
For in the gulfs of space there lies a fleet,
A massed armada of the Houses Great
That stands above Arrakis, poised to strike
And shall upon my word reduce this world
Of sand and dust to ash and heat to make
Its present desert state a paradise.

PAUL: That fleet I had for matters weightier
Almost forgot. I see the Guildsmen stand
Among you in their weeds of gray: approach!
And send that fleet from out Arrakis’ skies.
And learn to ask permission ere you dare
This planet violate with ships of war.

GUILDSMAN 1: The Guild heeds not thine order nor thy threat!
And you may face embargo for these acts
And watch thy planet die by inches, left
Without the water, trade and wealth that feeds
Each planet in th’Imperium with life.

PAUL: Speak but a word beyond my sufferance
And I shall give the order that destroys
The spice upon Arrakis once for all.

GUILDSMAN 1: Art thou gone mad? What is this brain-sick jest?

PAUL: No jest. Thou knowest I could do this thing.

GUILDSMAN 1: You could, but you must not! The consequence
Is death and pain beyond imagining!

PAUL: Ye both are navigators of the Guild.

GUILDSMAN 2: Aye! And you would blind yourself as well,
And doom us all to agonizing death
That slowly drags down to madness’ bourne.
Know you what happens to a man deprived
Of spice if he is once addicted to’t?

PAUL: The eye that seeth safety in the gulfs
Of space immeasurable, and foldeth space
Between the worlds shall be forever closed.
The Guild is crippled, and th’Imperium
Doth shatter into colonies dispersed
On half a thousand worlds, lost in the night.
I do confess, that after suffering
The crimes and contumely of prouder worlds
That I might do this thing out of revenge
Or spite, or schadenfreude: joy in hate.

GUILDSMAN 1: Let us together reason, and we may
Achieve a compromise of good to all.

PAUL: This is my compromise and argument:
Remove your fleet from out my planet’s sky
And take your putrid shadows off my floor.
The power to destroy a thing controls
It absolutely. Thou shalt leave this place
To where shalt be granted leave to speak
Unto that fleet to homeward banish it
Or unto blindness for eternity.

GUILDSMAN 2: He is in earnest. I can see the wall
The loometh, blocking every vision past
The moment we dare disobey his word.


PAUL: When they permitted thee to mount the throne
That was thy father’s, it was understood
That thou wouldst keep the spice flow unimpaired.
And thou of that compact dost stand forsworn.
Dost understand the consequence of this?

SHAD: No man permitted me to mount my throne!

PAUL: Play not the fool. The Guild is like a town
In need of river water, but they chose
To dam the river not, for then they must
The burden of the ruler bear, and wield
The sword of justice, and the weight of war
And risk the wrath of those who would be kings
Thus to assume the mastery of the dam.
And so they took according to their needs
And trusted none could dam the spice’s flow
That bringeth commerce, trade, and government
To all the worlds of the Imperium.
Yet I have dammed the river and you all
With such damnation as ye cannot scape
Without ye break the floodgates of Hell’s plain
And damn th’Imperium to drown in thirst.
Go ask thy Truthsayer, but she doth shake
For she hath used the liquour of the spice
To see the truth of things, and naught can take
Its place for her. O Reverend Mother, hail.
Who art called Gaius Helen Mohiam.
T’is long since we did meet on Caladan.

REV: He is the one. For that, O Jessica
Thou mayest possibly forgiven be
Of even that abominable child
That thou dost call thy daughter. Kull wahad.

PAUL: Take thy forgiveness of my mother back,
As thou hast neither grievance nor the power
To aught forgive her of, thou shriveled hag.
But try thy tricks on me, or dare to glimpse
The place thou darest not to look, and find
My gaze returned for thine: Where is it now,
The gom jabbar thou didst so proudly hold?

REV: I first of all did know thee for a human.
Desecrate it not with blasphemy.

PAUL: Observe this Mother Bene Gesserit!
A patient woman in a patient cause.
For ninety generations she did wait
With aye her sisters for the perfect match
Of genes and the conditions to produce
The person to empower all their schemes.
Observe her as she comprehends the truth:
That ninety generations have brought forth
That Kwisatz Haderach, and here I stand
To do her bidding never in this life.

REV: Silence him!

JESS:                          O silence him thyself!

PAUL: Thou hast for thy part in this scheme a rope
Around thy haggard neck deserved, and thou
Couldst not prevent it. But I think the life
Of Tantalus, to see but not to touch
The object of thy o’erproud desires
Is sharper punishment for thee and thine.

REV: What hast thou done, O Jessica, thou fool?

PAUL: Thou sawest but a part of what our race,
Humanity, that piece of godly work
Required, but with an eye beclouded so
With pride, ambition, and o’erconfidence.
Ye thought to master breeding of a few
And thus create, according to your plan
A superhuman…

REV:                           Speak not of these things!

PAUL: Be silent!

REV:                           Jessica! O Jessica!

PAUL: I mind me of thy gom jabbar, now know
Of mine. I can slay thee with but a word.

STIL: As scripture says, “His word shall carry death
Eternal to the foes of righteousness.”

PAUL: Your Majesty, the way is clear for us
To solve our difference and heal our wounds.

SHAD: You dare propose alliance after this?
To you, adventurer, sprung of the sand?
Without a House, nor drop of noble blood?

PAUL: You have admitted to my lineage
And named me royal kinsman in this room.
Let us no more act through this false charade.

SHAD: I am your ruler, and will not submit.

PAUL: The Guild obeys my word: I could by force
Compel you to my will in this and all.

SHAD: You will not dare.

IRULAN:                                O father, heed his words.

SHAD: Try not your tricks on me. There is no need
For this, my daughter. We have other strength.

IRU: But here’s a man who’s fit to be thy son.


JESS (to PAUL): She pleads thy case.

PAUL (to JESS):                                T’is Irulan that speaks?
The eldest daughter of th’Imperial line?

JESS: It is.

CHANI:           Does Muad’Dib desire that I
Should leave him, that alliance may be made?

PAUL: Thou shalt be nevermore apart from me.

CHANI: Naught binding lies between us anymore.

PAUL: Speak only truth with me, Sihaya mine.
That which doth bind us never can be loosed.
But watch this chamber closely, for I’d see
It later by thy wisdom’s guiding light.

SHADDAM IV and REVEREND MOTHER argue in whispers

PAUL: She doth remind him of the compact made
To place a Bene Gess’rit on the throne
And Irulan is who they’ve groomed for it.

JESS: Was that their plan?

PAUL:                                     Is’t not self-evident?

JESS: Mine eyes are opened to the signs! Think not
To teach the woman who did teach them thee!

GURN: I do remind you, lord, of that Harkonnen
Standing sinister within their midst
With evil look as I have ever seen.
You promised me upon a time that I…

PAUL: Go to! T’is not the time for such, I pray thee.

GURN: T’is the na-Baron. Nay, the Baron now
That old Vladimir’s dead. He’ll do for me.

PAUL: And art thou sure of victory?

GURN:                                                As sure
As I could run a scale per baliset!

PAUL: That argument hath taken long enough.
O Majesty? Is there within your midst
Some man of House Harkonnen yet alive?

SHAD: My entourage, I think, hath countenance
And conduct safe under thy ducal word.

PAUL: I but inquired to know. I wished to ask
If that Harkonnen of thy entourage
Indeed is part, or if he merely hides
Within it out of cowardice and hopes
To ‘scape his just reward through legal tricks.

SHAD: Who is within th’Imperial company
Accepted, he is in my entourage.

PAUL: The Duke Atreides’ word thou hast.
Muad’Dib ye may find of a diff’rent mind
As touching who may join your entourage.
I have a friend who’d have Harkonnen blood
With reasons of the highest to allow…

FEYD: Kanly! T’was your father named this feud,
Who called it first vendetta, and now thou
Dost dare to call me coward, who dost hide
Amid thy women and a lackey send
To fight with me? Atreides, what art thou
But master of barbarians and whores?

SHAD: O, kanly, is it? Kanly hath strict rules.

GURN: Milord, you promised me my day against
Harkonnen’s tainted blood, to spill anon.

PAUL: Thy day against them’s past; now dawns mine own.

JESS: There is no need for this; you’ve easier ways.

PAUL: As poison, an assassin, all the ways
So dear to our traditions through the years.

GURN: You promised me Harkonnen blood. T’is mine!

PAUL: Have you more suffered at their hands than I?

GURN: My sister, and my years lost as their slave.

PAUL: My father and my son both lost. My friends
Who died defending me. My years of flight
I’ll place against thy claim i’th’scales to weigh
And when that tips it in my favor I’ve
Yet one thing more: this is aye kanly now.
And you know well as I what rules prevail.

GURN: He’s no more than a beast you’d with a boot
Both spurn and then discard rather than deign
To clean its slime therefrom an wear again.
Call forth an executioner, disgrace
No honorable blade to kill this thing.

CHANI: Muad’Dib need not do this.

PAUL:                                                 The Duke Paul must.

JESS (to PAUL): There is a thing that you must know in this:
The Bene Gesserit will do a thing
From time to time with persons dangerous,
And over which they must controlment have:
They plant a word within their consciousness
Sown in their minds by pleasure and by pain.
And if this word be uttered in their ear,
No conscious thought nor trained reflex shall
Exempt them from the moment when that word
Shall strike their muscles with flaccidity
And render them thy victim. Urosh-nor
Is that word sound most common to be used.

PAUL: I want no tricks, nor plans to nest them in.
Let this be skill against his skill alone.

GURN (to JESS): Why holds he to this course? Hath he believed
This Fremen god-play, and would martyred be?

JESS: Be silent now. And pray, if thou canst do’t.

SHAD: Feyd-Rautha, of my entourage may meet
You with my blade in hand, if he so wish.
I do relieve him of restraint in this
And bid him choose his course. Thy rabble hath
Of me both belt and blade relieved, I think.

FEYD: I wish it, yea.

PAUL:                         Then get the Emperor’s blade.
And clear his rabble back against the wall.
Place the royal knife upon the floor
And let Harkonnen stand and meet his fate.

the FREMEN and the Imperial court obey.
FEYD strips to a fighting girdle.
PAUL removes his stillsuit.

PAUL (aside): Now I who thought to turn aside jihad,
The holy war that leads the Fremen forth
To overturn the worlds, do see how blind
I was to think it possible. Should I
Here triumph, they shall say I cannot die
Nor be defeated, ah, but should I fall
They’ll say I sacrificed myself to leave
My spirit free to guide them on their path
That no man can oppose. They’ll swarm the skies
Upon the ships of their new slaves the Guild
And none shall turn them out of glory’s road.

FEYD: Is the Atreides ready?

PAUL: May thy knife chip and shatter.

FEYD: Now meet thy death, thou backworld villain knave.

PAUL: O cousin, so to mock me. Shall we fight?

They fight.

FEYD: How beautiful thy dancing. Art thou shriven?
Or hast thou here thy pagan rites alone?
The Emperor hath aye his Truthsayer
Within the crowd. Wouldst like her to prepare
Thy spirit for its journey from they corse?

They fight.

FEYD: Doth Atreides run or stand and fight?
Or dost thou hope to buy thee by this dance
A prolongation of thy short’ning life?
But why delay inevitable death
Thou dost but keep me from my rights upon
This noisome ball of dirt to exercise.
O speak, Atreides. Or perhaps thy tongue
Is shorter even than thy useless blade.

They fight.

FEYD: A hit! Thy Thufir Hawat taught me well
Enough as others, and hath given me
A first-blood draught to whet my appetite
To feast upon thee further: what a shame
That he, the fool, lived not to see this hour.

They fight.

PAUL (aside): Such triumph trumpeted upon a hit
That any razor might upon a face
Inflict? No poison should have passed the men
Who took that blade, but now I sense the trace
Of subtle drugs upon the Emperor’s blade
That slow the muscles, dull the nerves, but yet
No poison are. Yet I can alter it.
And more, return this treachery in kind.

PAUL touches his knife to the wound and they fight.

FEYD: O treachery! He fights with poisoned blade!
I feel it in my arm, and in my blood.

PAUL: A drop of acid only, in exchange
For drugs upon the Emperor’s blade besmeared.

They fight and grapple.

FEYD (to PAUL): Upon my hip thou seest it: thy death.
Its poison shall thy muscles freeze and I
Shall finish thee with blade and none to know
That aught but feeble skill did take thy life.

PAUL: I shall not slay him with that coward word!

FEYD gapes and PAUL slips free. FEYD dies.

PAUL: O Majesty, your force hath lost one more.
Shall we shed sham and speak of what must be?
Your daughter wed to me so that the line
Of House Atreides shall bestride the throne?

SHAD (to FENRING): Thou art the finest blade at my command.
Friend Hasimir, the throne hath need of thee.
Slay this Atreides youth. He could not stand
Against thy devious subtility.
O call him out! Why stand you there amazed!

FENRING (aside): I could slay this boy, who stands before
Us as the conqu’ring hero of this day.
And yet what victory would then be won:
A martyr made, an Empire drowned in blood?
For they should not forgive us for his death
Nor should it save my dearest friend his throne.

PAUL (aside): I could by him be slain, and now do see
Why I have never seen him on the roads
Of time or vision prescient. This man,
As I am now he might have been: alone
And burdened as I am by fate and time
That ruleth us and forceth us to rule.

FEN (aside): For this I shall not slay another man.
Your Majesty, I must refuse. No more.

SHADDAM strikes FENRING in the face.

FEN: Your Majesty, we have been friends. I now
Shall do a thing for friendship and forget
That thou hast stricken me without a cause.

PAUL: We spoke, your Majesty, about the throne.

SHAD: The throne is mine! I am your Emperor!

PAUL: A word from me, and you this day shall have
A throne upon Salusa Secundus.

SHAD: I laid down arms and came here on thy word!
How darest thou to threaten me with violence?

PAUL: Thy person hath no cause to fear from me:
Atreides’ duke hath given thee my word.
But Muad’Dib can sentence thee to serve
Thy life’s short length upon thy prison world,
But even there, ye need not fear, for I
Shall ease its harshness, and that hellish planet
Make a garden, full of gentle things.

SHAD: I see thy motives now, at last in truth.

PAUL: Indeed. No more shall men need conquer it
And take their skills at conquest to the stars.

SHAD: And what of this Arrakis? Shall it be
Another garden full of gentle things?

PAUL: Arrakis shall have gardens, too, and green
Oases rich with running water, poured
Beneath the open sky, but there is spice
To think of too, so deserts we shall have
To tame his maker and to toughen man.
We Fremen have a saying: “God did make
Arrakis as the training ground for all
The faithful.” Who can fight the will of God?

REV: Ye cannot loose them on the universe!

PAUL: The Sardaukar have been for long so loosed.

REV: You cannot.

PAUL:                        Lies fit not a Truthsayer,
Still less the lies that she doth tell herself.
Your Majesty, that which we do were best
Done quickly. Why prolong the agony?

IRU: For this, my father, I have long been trained.

REV: You cannot stay this thing. It is accomplished.

SHAD: Who, kinsman, shall negotiate for thee?

CHA: I know the reasons, Usul. This must be.

PAUL: Fear nothing, my Sihaya, nevermore.
My mother, now negotiate for me
With Chani by your side, for she is wise
And sees with eyes of blue-in-blue what men
May miss. And like a Fremen she shall deal.
And more than this, she looks with eyes of love
For me and all our sons that are to come.
So heed her as you deal for us with them.

JESS: How shall you then instruct us to proceed?

PAUL: The dowry ye demand shall be no less
Than all the Emperor doth hold of CHOAM,
That company that hath controlled the spice
And half the universe’s good besides.

JESS: His wealth in CHOAM entire?

PAUL:                                                 All of it.
I’ll have him stripped, and Gurney shall be earl
Of Caladan, and have directorship
In CHOAM. There shall be titles, yea, and pow’r
Conferred upon the least Atreides man
Who hath survived our war, not one forgot.

JESS: And for the Fremen?

PAUL:                                     Muad’Dib shall take
Thought for the Fremen, and give their rewards.

JESS: And what for me?

PAUL:                                     What dost thy heart desire?

JESS: A time to think. I am become too much
The Reverend Mother and the Fremen, too
But Caladan, my heart doth long for it.

PAUL: What time you wish, you’ll have
And Caladan is world enough and space
To be home for all who would return.

JESS: And for the royal concubine, what then?

CHANI: O naught. Naught, naught for me, I beg of thee.

PAUL: I swear to thee: no title shalt thou need
Nor honor greater than I do thee give
Nor that thou givest me, which is thyself.
That woman there shall be my wife and thou
But concubine because we must weld peace
From this hot moment forged in fire of war,
And cozen the Great Houses to our cause
By following their forms of feigned love.
Yet that proud princess shall have naught of me
But name. No child of mine, nor warmth of glance
Nor gentle touch shall e’er she have of me.

CHA: Yet what thou sayest now, such beauty as
She hath may like the draught of Lethe o’erwhelm
Thy mind and heart in days that are to come.

JESS: Dost thou yet know my son so little? Yea,
Behold that princess haughty, confident
That she is prize beyond all measure, won
By him whose conquest shakes a throne this day.
And yet he’ll count her as a leaden crown
Whose touch of gilded weight he’ll not endure
Excepting as men need to see it worn.
She’ll wear the name, but live as concubine
And less, a sterile Empress to her lord
Who’ll never know the man she’s wed. But we
Who men name concubine while we have lives
Shall be the women history calls wives.

Exeunt al Fine.