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Dune: What Is The Voice & Why Is It Important?

The Voice in the universe of Dune plays an important role as it is a powerful and dangerous ability. The power was introduced in Dune Part 1 and is a key concept of the lore established by Frank Herbert, author of the original Dune books. The Voice could be plainly explained as an ancient audio-neuro control tool linked to the influential Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, whose breeding program nurtures the ancient abilities of Paul Artreides. Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica has been part of the Bene Gesserit for most of her life and has the ability to use the Voice in her favor.

The film introduces Paul and Jessica with a small showcase of what the Voice can do, as Jessica demands Paul to use the Voice to make her hand him the bottle of water. Although he nearly accomplishes it, Paul successfully uses the Voice in the best example of its true power when the two are captured and about to be thrown out of an aircraft. Jessica is gagged and unable to use the power, but Paul succeeds by finding the right pitch, inducing one of the captors to set Jessica free, who consequentially forces the rest of the enemies to kill themselves with only a few words.

Related: How Dune 2021 Changes Paul Artreides’ Powers & Abilities (& Why)

The Voice Can Influence Others
Timothee Chalamet as Paul in Dune
Throughout the decades, the Bene Gesserit mastered the Voice as a unique power in battle, taking over the enemy’s mind by altering their voices’ pitch quality and activating sleeping neural transmissions. In simple words, they demand something in simple words to a specific target, and the target obeys promptly. The Voice instructions must be sharp and straight to the point, otherwise, they’ll be delivered in the person’s ordinary voice and have no effect, enabling the target to prepare against the Voice. It requires years of Bene Gesserit training and strong willpower that applies differently from person to person to finally master the Voice’s full potential.

Although Paul initially shows a very limited control of the Voice in the first film, it remains an impressive showcase for a boy his age, especially considering he’s a male Bene Gesserit, thus almost a persona non grata. Naturally, Paul’s similitude with the Kwisatz Haderach prophecy explains why he’s progressing so fast. On the other hand, Lady Jessica has studied and grasped the Voice for years, becoming one of the strongest Bene Gesserit and a dangerous warrior whenever she can speak out loud, as evidenced in the film.

The Voice’s Impact On The Dune Plot
Jessica looks at Leto while he stares in the distance in Dune.
Even though the Kwisatz Haderach augury feels like a typical chosen one prophecy, it actually represents the Bene Gesserit’s successful attempts to breed a powerful male human capable of accessing all the memories of ancient Bene Gesserit members, evolving rapidly and unlocking abilities such as predicting the future, uniting the people against the galactic power that oppress them, and of course, use the Voice at ease as none other. The Voice has the potential to interfere directly in Dune’s politics: in the book, Jessica considered using the Voice on her husband Duke Leto multiple times in order to ensure the safety of House Artreides.

Although the Voice offers plenty of opportunities, its use is directly linked to the values of the Bene Gesserit, which prevents Jessica from interfering recklessly in politics and breaking the Duke’s trust. The threat of the Voice forces enemies to adapt to this power, which causes Baron Harkonnen to assign deaf guards to Jessica and the High Houses to develop Cones of Silence, an intelligent device controlled by electronic impulses that disrupt the sound of the human voice, countering the Voice effect.

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