Typing (most of) the Dune Ensemble
Welcome to the world of Dune. In this article, we’re going to type (most of) the Dune ensemble. As opposed to recent articles, which have been dedicated solely to one character, we will be covering a lot more ground here. If you’ve lived under a rock since 1965, and have missed out on one of the greatest sci epics of all time… spoiler warning.
Don’t agree on a type? Tell me why in the comments below. Bear in mind that the typings are solely drawn from the original book trilogy and the 2021 film. It is likely that the previous iterations of Dune will represent some characters in a slightly different way. Let’s dig in.
The centerpiece that the narrative hinges on, Dune gives us a close view of the complex young man who is quickly evolving into one of the most powerful beings in the universe.
With Messianic undertones and the adoption of the Fremen culture, many see Paul as an INFJ. But, those who believe Paul is an INFJ likely have the backward, internet, view of Ni, which we know is actually Ne: prescience.
Paul’s path to take over Arrakis is given to him through a series of visions. From visions of the Fremen, to seeing the girl who will become his lover, to the full outbreak of war between houses, and many, many other visions, Paul displays all the characteristics of a high Extraverted Intuition user — also making him abstract.
We see examples in the book, such as deducing some of the long-term consequences of the spice that are not mentioned upfront, that point to Paul possessing Introverted Thinking. Ne + Ti immediately puts him in the Crusader Quadra, specifically between the two xNTP types.
So, which is he? Is he an INTP or an ENTP? It can be argued that Paul’s Extraverted Intuition came online in the way that a Parent function does in adolescence — a concept Chase talks about in Season 23. Parent functions typically emerge fully during adolescence, which could explain Paul’s “awakening” into his prescience. This would make him an INTP, as it would be his Ne Parent coming online.
What about the ENTP? One of the most essential quotes to illustrate Paul’s Character is given through one of Dune’s most famous lines. It is said by Jessica in the film, but in the book, with the needle pressed to his neck, Paul recalls the line and runs it through his mind to calm himself.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
This specific quote is much more akin to Si Inferior as opposed to the Si Child of the INTP, as fear of inner experience is innate to Si Inferiors. Going a layer deeper, we can see the ENTP’s Battleground of Inhibition (Si Inferior + Ni Nemesis) working through the fear in the above quote. This is also evidence of Paul’s ISFJ Subconscious, where he develops the ISFJ virtue of faith over fear by confronting his fear.
Further, Paul facing the fear of his Si Inferior + Ni Nemesis makes his Ne Hero stronger. This gives the appearance of his Ne “coming online”, though it’s more likely that his Ne Hero is making a jump in its competence, via Cognitive Axis and Orbit, because Paul is directly developing his Inferior and Nemesis.
In the film, we see examples of Paul initiating several times (with Duncan and with the servant watering the trees), as well as Paul yelling at the Reverend Mother when she dismisses Jessica.
From the book: “Does one dismiss the Lady Jessica as though she were a serving wench?”
This is something an Fe Child would be far more likely to say than an Fe Inferior.
Si Inferior also creates anxiety toward painful and uncomfortable experiences. This is furthered by the Ni Nemesis creating worry in the ENTP about getting into situations that will restrict their freedom. Thus, the above quote, which illustrates that fear (Si Inferior) leads to “total obliteration” (Ni Nemesis), points to Paul being an ENTP.
While there is a case to be made that Paul is an INTP, Paul’s propensity to initiate, the obvious struggle he has with his fear, and the development of faith in his Inferior to combat that fear, lead us to conclude that Paul Atreides is an ENTP.
Why is he not one of the INxJ types? For one, his ability to be competent in physical altercations came at the cost of many hours of training. Certainly, all types need training to improve; but Paul’s understanding of combat was built not on natural ability (something more likely for an INxJ to possess), but through creating habits to engage effectively in deadly situations (an Introverted Sensing approach).
In the book, the description of the fight between Jamis and Paul illustrates this clearly. Herbert describes Paul barely escaping many of Jamis’ lunges and, only by the grace of the foresight provided by his countless hours of training, allowed Paul to best Jamis in the end.
An Se user’s advantage is in the tactics of attacking and reacting in the moment. But an Si user’s ability to navigate a fight lies in direct proportion to the number of experiences gathered for them to pull from. Time, effort, and experience give the Si user a bigger pool of memories to utilize in the moment.
With more effort and experience — and better habits — Introverted Sensing gains the ability to see (Ne) what’s going to happen, and “react” ahead of time. An Si user’s experience builds their awareness to see emerging patterns, and awareness of patterns increases the accuracy of their foresight.
Moreover, as mentioned above, it is Paul’s prescience that clearly puts him in the category of being an Ne user. Any attempt to type Paul as an Ni user is evidence of a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of Introverted Intuition and Extraverted Intuition. It is clear that Paul belongs to one of Ne users.
Paul is likely a shadow — INTJ — focused ENTP, which would explain his propensity to step into the leadership role — his Ni destiny — with relative ease and have the will to incite the journey of his rebellion against the Emperor. And he sees it as his duty to incite what is, in his mind, a holy war — a motivation that is most likely to drive a Crusader to embark on such a dangerous journey. Paul Atreides is an ENTP.
Duke Leto Atreides
The Duke’s most notable action occurs at the beginning of the story. He accepts the Emperor’s order to take over Arrakis. The Duke is no fool. He knows that the intentions of the Emperor — and by extension, the Baron — are not as friendly as the Emperor would have him believe.
Leto knows there is a trap somewhere in Arrakis, and possibly even his death. But he accepts anyway. What does this single act tell us about the Duke? That he is driven by duty. And his expression of his duty is to obey the Emperor — which serves as evidence that Leto is affiliative. He feels it his duty to do as the Emperor commands. Others expect strength from House Atreides, and he will not run from his duty now.
Further, Leto’s awareness of a likely foul-play conspiracy levied against House Atreides is evidence that the Duke possesses Extraverted Intuition in a pessimistic slot. Where optimistic Ne naturally seeks to find how something will work, pessimistic Ne often seeks to find how something won’t. Already we are down to an INxP or ISxJ.
Despite knowing that he is walking into a trap, Leto will do everything he can to protect his people and ensure the survival of his house. The Duke’s first strategy — which he plans far ahead of time — is to form an alliance with the Fremen. Desert power, right?
In the film, the Duke and Gurney are looking over the small city they are inhabiting, and the Duke is pointing out specific tasks that need to be accomplished quickly to achieve the desired result — survival.
What the strategic thinking of the Duke points to, as well as his approach to tasks being about accomplishing them rather than embracing the journey of progress, points to the Duke being one of the eight Outcome types. He is focused more so on the result than the journey towards the result.
We already posited that his Ne is pessimistic, making him an introvert by process of elimination. Combined with the Outcome attribute, we are down to the INFP, INTP, and ISFJ for the Duke’s type.
At the beginning of the film, we see the Duke and Paul have a conversation. Paul is worried that he may not be the man his father wants him to be, and may not have the strength to eventually take up the mantle of leadership. The Duke consoles his son by saying that no matter what Paul does, “You’ll still be the only thing I ever needed you to be: my son.
This quote, revealing Leto’s ability to relate emotionally with his son, points to the presence of Extraverted Feeling. Further, in contrast with an Extraverted Thinking user who would be more concerned about the position, lineage, and reputational legacy of the house, the Duke is concerned not about what other people will think about Paul, but about whether or not Paul is a given fair chance to navigate his own future. The Duke’s Extraverted Intuition and Extraverted Feeling are both on display. This rules out INFP.
In the film and the book, the Duke goes out of his way to save the workers on the spice crawler when the sandworm comes to attack.
“Damn the spice!” the Duke says. Again this points to Si + Fe. He embraces it as his duty — the right thing to do — to save the workers’ lives. He is an introverted Crusader.
We are down to the INTP or ISFJ
There are not many instances of the Duke relating to others in an abstract way. His Outcome focused attribute is geared toward accomplishing tangible results. While this perspective is certainly possible for an INTP, especially under the leadership stress that the Duke is under, this additional evidence of Leto being concrete points us to Duke Leto being an ISFJ.
In the film, and somewhat in the book, there is an unmistakable mildness to the Duke. A quiet strength, but a strength that runs deep, nonetheless. His strategy for surviving on Arrakis is to lead with strength (Si Hero) in spite of the pernicious intentions clearly at play (Ne Inferior). Leto’s courage to step into a harmful unknown is quite a courageous act for an ISFJ. And he meets his end with that same courage.
Jessica is arguably the most difficult character to understand in the first book. Her allegiances seem split between her son, Duke Leto, and her order, the Bene Gesserit. Because of this separation, she carries several motives and is divided between different drives. She is both tough and compassionate, lethal and gentle, secretive and supportive, and skilled in both hand to hand and the telepathic/psychological combat of her order.
Her inclusion into the Bene Gesserit makes it more likely that she is one of eight abstract types. The pull of the “magic”, telepathy — and, let’s be honest, cultish behavior — and foresight of the Bene Gesserit are pursuits that are generally more attractive to abstract types, whose relationship with reality is complicated by their preference to see what’s “real” as a secondary form to what’s possible.
However, it is likely that Jessica wasn’t “adopted” into the Bene Gesserit, but created for it via genetic engineering — something the Bene Gesserit are known for. Further, and more importantly, being in a world where magic is real, and utilized, its very presence alone no longer lends itself to be classified as abstract. We can’t put her down for abstract just yet.
Both in the book and the film, Jessica’s communication tilts toward direct. There are moments where, because of her position as a concubine, and positioning herself in the shadows — as is the nature of her order — her communication seems more informative. And this is a notable pattern to see, as her true type, though direct, will arguably fall into informative communication more easily than other direct types, especially when accounting for her likely preference for being Shadow-focused.
In the film, when Paul is being tested by the Reverend Mother, we see Jessica dealing with the same extreme pain her son is experiencing in a different room. Jessica feels the pain of Paul as he is being, for all intents and purposes, tortured. She weeps at the shared experience she feels with Paul. This points primarily to Extraverted Feeling, which allows one to absorb the emotions of another, as well as Extraverted Sensing, where they “feel” the experience of the other as well.
But what about motherhood? Couldn’t the shared experience (Se), and the emotions pulled from it, be explained by Jessica’s Fi Sympathy — especially because she’s his mother — as opposed to Fe empathy? Certainly, and her choice to break one of the rules of the Bene Gesserit could be read as a pragmatic decision, likely making her an INTJ.
But Jessica often takes the role of teacher with Paul — reminding him to rely on his training when afraid or misguided. This evidence tilts more toward an emotional intelligence about other people that she can tap into, making it more likely that she’s a Templar over a Wayfarer.
Further, one of her most inciteful quotes in the book says something important about her.
“Anything outside yourself, this you can see and apply your logic to it. But it’s a human trait that when we encounter personal problems, these things most deeply personal are the most difficult to bring out for our logic to scan. We tend to flounder around, blaming everything but the actual, deep-seated thing that’s really chewing on us.”
This is a Ti/Fe statement. Ti users often have this challenge, where it is easier for them to solve other people’s problems than their own. Further, that when they apply Ti to their own problems, they find that something is often missing. It is usually a failure to take Introverted Feeling into account. Finding the true/false is only one mechanism of the human, and overusing Ti can separate our mind from the other parts of us.
Things most deeply personal are the most difficult to bring out for our logic to scan.
Jessica is a Templar.
Jessica also tends toward being responding in her communication and, mixed with her directness (direct + responding), makes her a woman of few words. With her preference for Extraverted Feeling and Extraverted Sensing, and being direct and responding, she must be an ISTP or INFJ.
The fact that she is in the Bene Gesserit doesn’t guarantee that she’s abstract. So, what else can we surmise about her character? Of the notable actions she takes is to have Paul to begin with. The Reverend Mother reprimands Jessica for teaching Paul the methods of the Bene Gesserit — an order made up solely of women.
The Reverend Mother sees Jessica’s motives in that she wants to bring forth the Kwisatz Haderach, the summation of thousands of years of careful planning to bring forth an apex being capable of traversing time and space in an instant (maximized Introverted Sensing with all the data of the past to see the exact paths of the future, Extraverted Intuition).
Jessica’s action puts her characteristic of being affiliative or pragmatic into question. She does break the rules of the Bene Gesserit by giving birth to Paul. Yet, in many instances of the she speaks — the quote above being a prime example — provides evidence for her preference for abstraction. And one act of defiance doesn’t guarantee pragmatism. She is very deferential to the Reverend Mother, in person, for example. But the act of having Paul points to her choosing her own desires (Ni) over the guiding principles of the Bene Gesserit (Fe + affiliative).
Could it be that Jessica was trying to cement her own legacy — and aspiring with her Se Inferior into her pragmatic ESTP subconscious — to step outside the bounds of the affiliative and attempt to bring forth one of destiny’s most important beings?
Regardless of the answer to that question, the evidence points to Jessica being an INFJ.
It is interesting to note how easily she embraces the Fremen culture (as does Paul). For Paul it was his destiny manifesting in the culture of a people — the Fremen represent his true home. But with Jessica, we see her having initial difficulty embracing her new home — as her first instinct is to get off the planet after the attack. But, very quickly, she embraces the Fremen culture, befriends Stilgar, and becomes an extremely powerful being within their own hierarchy. Templars are likely to have the easiest time with transitions such as these.
The Baron is a tricky character to type. On one hand, he has clear depravity for over-indulgence that is closely associated with the vice of Si users (especially Si Inferior). But his drive for control and domination speaks more toward higher Introverted Intuition with Extraverted Thinking.
From the film and the book, the easiest characteristic to pull out of the Baron is his preference for Pragmatism. By process of elimination alone, with next to zero evidence for him being affiliative — his reliance on deception and attacking for the sake of pragmatic outcomes being noteworthy — we must put him down as being Pragmatic.
Secondarily, we see he is an Outcome type. He has plans — schemes — and is more concerned with the result that his soldiers achieve, and not how they achieve it. “This is my Dune. Kill them all.”
Toward the beginning of the book, the Baron is in conversation with Piter and Feyd-Rautha. To his nephew, Rautha, he says: “Obverse the plans within plans within plans,” in reference to the plot to overthrow house Atreides and retake control of Arrakis.
This quote, adding further evidence of the Baron’s scheming mind, points both to the Baron’s preference for Abstraction and Outcome.
We have a Pragmatic + Outcome + Abstract type. This makes him either an INTP or an ENTJ.
With a quote like this, “He who controls the spice controls the universe,” we see the argument for ENTJ. It is no secret that the Baron cares about acquiring power. The only way we can distinguish between thes ENTJ and INTP, and their drive for power, is motivation. But there is one more piece we are overlooking.
In the book and the film, we see Baron Harkonnen consistently attend to his comfort. Whether it be his hot steam baths, bland and loose-fitting robes, or the device that permits him to float instead of being bothered to walk, comfort is clearly very important to the Baron. And the reader or viewer cannot help but be repulsed by his over-indulgence in comfort, which has decayed into a form of depravity.
Now, for power. The ENTJ is notorious — to the point of it being a stereotype — of being power-hungry. They pursue because with the higher responsibility of leadership, and being in positions of leverage, comes a higher reputation for their Te Hero. If power is what they want, they are driven by passion with their Ni Parent to smash through any obstacle and fight their way up the rungs of a hierarchy and into positions where they are the ones making decisions.
What about INTPs? If an INTP thinks it’s their duty to have more say in the world, they can take the long road toward working up to gaining more say and a higher capacity to make vital decisions and gain influence over others. However, the overt pursuit of power for the INTP — a Background type — is unlikely to be natural.
However, there is one drive that can make the INTP more likely to pursue power, and that is bitterness. When pushed past apathy, what is left for the INTP but bitterness?
We see the Baron act with streaks of vengeance. Just as depravity is a risk of an Si user, so too is bitterness. Often the two go hand in hand. Chase has talked about Harkonnen culture being rife with sexual abuse, among other practices we would label as “atrocious”. In the book, we see the Baron raping a young man — and it is implied that pedophilia is a practice he is well acquainted with. This again tends toward Si depravity, and the motivation for the Baron’s quest for power seems more driven out of bitterness than anything else.
The argument could be made that the Baron’s sadistic treatment of those who cross paths with him could be the Fe Demon of an ENTJ. And there’s a case to be made for that.
However, examining all the evidence present, particularly his clear prioritization of his own comfort, leads us to conclude that the Baron is a Shadow-focused INTP.
It is worth noting that different iterations of the Baron — specifically the Syfy miniseries — have him presented as a different type — likely ENTP with Se Demon in that show. But, for the book and the most recent film, the Baron is an INTP.
Duncan Idaho & Gurney Hallek
It’s pretty obvious both characters are SPs. Both have an element of physicality, tactical efficiency, and awareness of others’ strengths. Indeed, the last attribute is what distinguishes Gurney from being an ISTJ.
One could argue that Gurney’s concern over Paul’s readiness would be Ne Inferior — worried about Paul’s future — but it’s Gurney’s awareness of Paul’s weakness that puts him in the position to be worried in the first place. Gurney’s awareness of Paul’s combat-readiness is indicative of Se, particularly in a pessimistic slot. Gurney demands strength from Paul because, with Gurney’s Se Parent, he is ensuring that Paul has the best chance of survival should the tension on Arrakis break into physical conflict.
Gurney is also direct and responding, as we observe he says little. A high Se user who is direct and responding leaves only one option. Gurney Halleck is an ISTP.
Duncan also comes off as direct, but he’s more socially fluid and more comfortable initiating than Gurney. And his physical proficiency and unconservative tactical style in combat are evidence that he is a high Se user. Fighting comes naturally to him.
The argument could be made that Duncan is an ESFP. Conveying to the Duke the importance of the Fremen’s tradition — when Stilgar visits them in the film — as well as his conversation with Paul about “admiring” the Fremen could be argued as examples as Fi/Te.
But his revealing statement in the film — Dreams make good stories, but everything important happens when we’re awake — is more akin to the ESTP’s nature of being a manifestation of the ultimate reality check. Yes, the word “important” here sounds like an Fi statement. However, in this context, Duncan is referring to the “truth” of reality, an indication of Introverted Thinking.
In the way that Gurney protects Paul by pessimistically ensuring Paul is physically prepared (Se Parent), Duncan protects Paul by trying to bring Paul down to earth with the truth of reality (Ti Parent + Se Hero). This makes Duncan Idaho an ESTP.
But there are so many more!
There are a number of other important characters to type, including Chani, Stilgar, and the Emperor to name just a few. But, without much screentime (or any), typing some of these characters is unmeaningful for the time being.
If you have an opinion on some of the other character’s types who we did not look at — Kynes, Thufir, Dr. Yueh, the Reverend Mother, that giant played by Dave Bautista, or yes, even the Sandworm — make a case in the comments below. Otherwise, see you for Part 2!