Indeed. Furthermore, I think Herbert was actually extremely good to his female characters all things considered, and especially for a male Science Fiction writer of his era. I found most of them to be three-dimensional and believable in both their characterization and their motivation, and even secondaries like Gaius Helen Mohaim and Lady Fenring were capable, cunning, and, as much as is possible in such a rigidly feudal society, independent. He's pretty open about his examination of masculine and feminine themes in the text, and I actually think it's entirely possible to conclude that the women come off looking better than the men, and even that Dune can be read as a feminist work. (Essay no one asked for in 3... 2... 1...) [spoiler:8b1aa6fc52]Lady Jessica was perhaps the most capable, multifaceted character in the entire novel, and her motivations, to me, were much as Tagz lays out-- trying to find a way to balance the path and position she's worked her entire life for with her overriding devotion to the love and family she never expected to find, a conflict not unfamiliar to the rising tide of professional women emerging into the workplace at the time Herbert was writing or even to those in the modern era. Even when forced to choose family, the more traditional path, she doesn't protect Paul as a doting, broken mother but as a woman bent on preserving the last remnant of the family and the life she loved (and, one should note, as one of the most formidable ass-kickers in a book populated with the cloak-and-dagger equivalent of Dragon Ball Z). Jessica's motivation to me wasn't Paul alone-- she was a survivor, driven by love of family, preservation of dignity, and freedom of personal choice. Chani was a Fremen through and through, fierce and free-spirited but dedicated to the observance of the ways and the protection of her family and her people. That is her core motivation, and once Paul becomes a central part of that family and the vanguard of those ways, he of course falls under that umbrella. Her Fremen background does often cast her in a more orthodox or even primitive feminine role, but in other ways Sietch life is far more egalitarian than the structure of the Faufreluches, and Chani rides the waves of change kicked up by Paul deftly (if uneasily) and is crucial in shaping the way that events unfold. Irulan was by far the weakest female character in the book (intentionally), but even she was motivated not by Paul but by what he represented or a role he happened to be in. She had been groomed from birth by her father the Emperor and the Bene Gesserit to be the perfect princess, to think only of placing herself as a wife and future empress to secure her bloodline's continued power. The whole point of her character was to nab a man in a position like Paul's, but even then, it wasn't Paul that she was after as much as it was what could be gained by securing him. Without ambitions of her own beyond the shallow role imparted to her by the traditions of the institutions that had shaped her, she was ultimately left with nothing. Paul was undoubtedly the driving force of the novel, but he was often, as I hope I've made at least a decent case for already, more of a macguffin than he was a character. As the protagonist and narrative locus of the story, it only makes sense that he was the male half of most of the male-female gender explorations in the book, but one could just as easily point out that the men in Paul's life are just as devoted, and often, not as well-characterized (like Tagaziel says, dude WAS a frickin' messiah. It's okay for the world to revolve around them every once in awhile). AS a character, though, let's consider the man who would become the Kwisatz Haderach: Here was a young prince whose father (like his father before him), thanks to all his masculine hubris and foolish honor, stepped into an arena where he knew he was outmatched and was destroyed for it, set upon by the machinations of the patriarchal Faufreluches class system. He escaped only thanks to his mother's instruction in the feminine ways of the Bene Gesserit, and he survived only through her continued protection and instruction and the social groundwork lain by the Sisterhood. It was largely thanks to Chani's grounding and influence that he integrated so well into Seitch Tabr and managed to map out the beginnings of the Golden Path, and it was only through Paul's deft (Herbert might say feminine) sidestepping of masculine, alpha-dog Fremen traditions that he ascended to become leader of the tribes. In all the most important ways, Paul was shaped, guided, and anchored by women, and Herbert is overt about his messianic nature lying in his ability to see down both feminine and masculine avenues. By contrast, most of the novel's most admirable men, skilled and intelligent though they may have been, were either destroyed, duped, or left rudderless by the Harkonnen invasion, or were lockstepped by honor, hatred, or tradition into foolish courses or ultimately dead-end roles. Under the instruction of his father's officers alone, Paul would still have been a fine Duke and a formidable man, but he also would have been a very dead one.[/spoiler:8b1aa6fc52] tl;dr: Women rule Dune and Yamu needs to familiarize himself with the thesaurus entry for "role."