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Lady Jessica of the Atreides is a character in the 2021 film Dune. She is the official concubine of Duke Leto and the mother of their son Paul. Lady Jessica is portrayed by Rebecca Ferguson.

Character description[]

Lady Jessica shares the burden of House Atreides’ leadership with her beloved Duke Leto and an unbreakable bond to their son Paul Atreides. As a member of the mysterious Sisterhood known as the Bene Gesserit, she is a master of body and mind, able to weaponize her words through a power known as ‘the Voice’ to bend the will of those who dare to threaten her family. Burdened by the knowledge of what Paul must become to survive his destiny, she must prepare her son to lead humanity into a better future.[1]

History[]

Training Paul[]

As a member of the Bene Gesserit, Jessica is skilled in numerous arts, most notably, the Voice. Believing that the century-old prophecy of the Lisan al Gaib to be resting on the shoulders of her son, Paul, Jessica began teaching him the ways of the Bene Gesserit and how to command people using the Voice. This training proved to be difficult, however, and Paul struggled with mastering his abilities. Things became more intense for Jessica when she was forced to allow the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam to test Paul under the gom jabbar. Jessica warns Paul that what happens will be difficult, but that he must follow closely what Mohiam says. Jessica is forced to guard the door and prevent anyone from interrupting the test.

After the test, Jessica is congratulated on her raising of Paul by the Reverend Mother, and a brief conversation about the One ensues. Mohiam tells Jessica that she should be careful of assuming Paul to be the One, and that there are numerous other candidates should he fail. Unbeknownst to Jessica and Mohiam, Paul witnesses the conversation from afar and questions Jessica on it. Jessica tells Paul that the Bene Gesserit have been manipulating bloodlines for centuries and believe they have finally brought around the One. Indirectly, Jessica confirms that she believes Paul to be the One.

Atreides usurpation in Arrakeen[]

Arriving in Arrakis, Jessica feels that her family is safe within the shield wall of Arrakeen. Jessica begins to pick a maiden to live in the household during their stay, but quickly becomes vigilant when she senses that she is about to be attacked. It turns out, moments later, that a Fremen woman is holding a large dagger, and explains that her family is in danger on Arrakis. Jessica dismisses the notion, however, and carries on as normal.

When House Harkonnen attack Arrakeen — along with a hoard of Sardaukar troops — Jessica is taken hostage along with Paul; the two are taken onto an ornithopter, where Harkonnen troops plan to drop them into the desert. They are able to escape, however, when Jessica uses the Voice, commanding them to kill one another.

That night, Jessica and Paul sleep in the desert using a survival kit left to them by their usurper, Wellington Yueh. Tensions arise between Jessica and Paul when the two find Leto's ring in the kit, realising that he has fallen to House Harkonnen. An argument erupts between the two when Paul blames Jessica for the death and the meddling of the Bene Gesserit.

Meeting with the Fremen[]

Eventually, Jessica and Paul are reunited with Duncan Idaho, who takes them to an abandoned research facility where they are once again greeted by Liet Kynes — the judge of the change. She explains that the role of Arrakis changed when Spice was discovered and the research facility has been abandoned ever since.

Following this, Jessica and Paul are given sanctuary at the research facility among the Fremen, but peace is futile and they are soon discovered by a hoard of Sardaukar troops. The troops attack the facility and Idaho is killed defending Jessica and Paul. Kynes helps the two escape using a nearby ornithopter, and the two are able to escape the facility into the desert nearby. It is in the desert where Jessica and Paul come face-to-face with a Fremen group led by Stilgar. Stilgar is reluctant to take them in initially, but after Jessica shows them that she is a fighter, he tells the group that they can stay.

After Stilgar's announcement, tensions rise when a member of the group, Jamis, protests agains their companionship. He challenges Jessica to a duel but given her status as a Bene Gesserit (a sayyadina, in Fremen), she is unable to fight and Paul is forced to fight in her place. Paul is victorious, despite Jessica's worries that he has never killed a man. Given his success, the two are welcomed into the Fremen group despite Jessica's reluctance and wish to get Paul off Arrakis.

Becoming a Reverend Mother[]

Paul awakens beside his mother after having a dream about his unborn sister. Their new Fremen allies have spotted a Harkonnen patrol. Silently instructed to hide, Jessica and her son try to avoid being detected while the others take out the soldiers. Unfortunately they are spotted and Paul is able to kill one of them in the nick of time. Chanti takes out the last one when Paul carelessly forgets to watch his back. Jessica chides her son for never learning that lesson. The group pauses so the Fremen can collect the water from the soldiers. Jessica starts heaving on account of her pregnancy. Stilgar tells her to hold it in so as not to waste water and she is fails. Paul asks his mother if she and his little sister are ok and Jessica assures him that she is. Paul tells her of his plan to use the Fremen to exact his revenge against the Harkonnens. Jessica is surprised. She didn’t think Paul believed in revenge. After everything that has happened Paul definitely does now. The conversation is cut short when Stilgar says that they need to get going. They are late enough already.

Upon arrival at their hideout the other Freman are hostile to the outsiders but Stilgar is able to convince some of them that the two of them might be a fulfillment of the prophecy.

Stilgar shows Jessica their funeral of one of their own and the adding of Jamis' water to a large pool in hopes that all the Freman life lost will someday change the planet into a better world. Jessica sheds a tear over all the souls who died but Sligar wipes it away and drinks it warning her not to waste any water. He then tells Jessica that in order to convince the Fremen of the prophecy she will have to become a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother. If she doesn't, she and her son will be left for the desert to take them. Jessica informs Paul of what is going on, admitting that she doesn’t actually know what is going to happen and is not sure what it will do to her unborn child. Jessica informs him that convincing the Fremen of the fulfillment of the prophecy is their only option.

The elderly Freman Reverend Mother presents her with the Water of Life, a substance that will kill her. Jessica hesitates to drink it but does so when the Reverend Mother commands her using The Voice. As she endures the experience the Reverend Mother is horrified to discover that Jessica is pregnant, immediately regretting her actions as she dies. She survives her ordeal thanks to her Bene Gesserit training she was able to nullify the poison as Paul explains to the shocked Fremen. Paul still doesn’t believe in the prophecy and only wants to fight alongside the Fremen, not lead them. They accept that for now. After Jessica recovers she tells Paul that because of the ceremony she can communicate with the child in her womb and that the baby has told her that if Paul is to become the Kwisatz Haderach all he needs to do is drink the Water of life. Paul recoils in horror at the sound of his mother’s voice echoing with the sound of all of her the women in her ancestral line.

After Paul leaves to begin his training with the Fremen Jessica talks to the child in her womb agreeing with her. If they are to protect her brother they will need to convince the Fremen that he is the one. They will start with the unbelieving Northern Tribe.

Expanding her sphere of influence[]

After Paul summons and successfully rides a grandfather sandworm on his first try, Chani's friend Shishakli tells Jessica and her followers that Paul summoned the biggest sand worm ever seen and successfully rode it. Jessica tells the Fremen that this is in fulfillment of the prophecy and the people rejoice. Afterwards she converses with her yet to be born daughter agreeing that now that they have the support of the Northern tribes she should head south and meet the Southern fundamentalists.

Before leaving she talks to Paul, relaying his sister’s questions to him. The baby wants to know why he doesn’t embrace his role as the messiah. Paul replies that it’s because their mother is spreading dangerous stories about him. Jessica wishes him well and will be waiting for him down south.

Jessica leaves atop a sandworm along with her followers. Upon arriving at a temple down south a priestess shows her how they extract The Water of Life from a young sandworm upon her daughter’s request. They extract the bile by drawing it in a pool of water. Afterwards she tells the priestess that a man may come here and request to drink the Water of Life as well. The woman protests saying that it would kill a man but Jessica puts her in her place by using the Voice.

Physical appearance[]

Jessica Atreides is noted to be beautiful, tall, with an oval-shaped face, hair the colour of shaded bronze and green eyes.

Personality[]

Differences from the original character[]

Jessica Atreides is adapted from the character of the same name from the original Dune novel.

Trivia[]

Quotes[]

Gallery[]

Promotional images[]

Navigation[]

Characters from Dune: Part One and Dune: Part Two

References[]

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