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Kwisatz Haderach

From Academic Kids

The Kwisatz Haderach is a fictional name name of a prophesied messiah figure in the Dune universe, created by Frank Herbert, and later extended by his son, Brian Herbert, alongside science fiction author Kevin J Anderson.

The name means "Shortening of the Way," and is the label applied by the Bene Gesserit to the unknown for which they sought a genetic solution — a unique male Bene Gesserit whose organic mental powers would bridge space and time. Also known as "the one who can be many places at once."

The phrase Kwisatz Haderach originally came from Hebrew (קְפִיצַת הַדֶּרֶךְ, possibly originally Tiberian Hebrew Qəp̄îṣáṯ hadDéreḵ, Standard Hebrew Qəfiẓat haDéreḫ, commonly Kfitzat haDérech) and means verbatim "jump of the path", the Hebrew idiomatic equivalent of the English expression "short cut".

The Bene Gesserit hoped to create a male Reverend Mother capable of absolute powers of prescience, able to predict all possible futures and to cause select threads of time to be realized through manipulation. They hoped to use him to strengthen Bene Gesserit power among other power loci within the Empire. Unknown to them at first, their breeding program came to a successful conclusion with the birth of Paul Atreides, but they could not control him. The result was the being they prized the most was the instrument by which their order diminished.

Jessica Atreides was conceived through the seduction of the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen by Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, and born to the Bene Gesserit in the year 10,154 after the formation of the Spacing Guild. She was raised to be married to the Duke Leto Atreides, and instructed to produce a daughter, but no sons, for him. This daughter would be wed to Feyd-Rautha, nephew of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and heir to House Harkonnen, healing the generations old rift between House Atreides and House Harkonnen, and producing the Kwisatz Haderach for the Bene Gesserit. The Kwisatz Haderach is the male reverend mother who has other memories of his male line, something the all-female Bene Gesserit lack, along with the female line.

However, Jessica falls in love with Leto, and produces a son for him, Paul (there is some indication that Jessica believed she could achieve the Kwisatz Haderach herself, one generation early). Paul is the Kwisatz Haderach, and eventually sets the Imperium on a course lasting thousands of years in the person of his son, Leto Atreides II. Much to the frustration of the Bene Gesserit, they do not control Paul, and the events of the coming millennia leave Jessica noteworthy as a figure of history who committed a great wrong (according to the Bene Gesserit); in the coming centuries, for a Bene Gesserit to choose her love over the instructions of her order is known as "the Jessica Crime".

Due to the advent of Paul and Leto II, the Bene Gesserit become terrified of accidently producing another Kwisatz Haderach because being able to see the future fixes the future along a certain path, to avoid this, the Bene Gesserit provoke the Honoured Matres into destroying most of the remnants of Leto II whose prescience had locked the human race into a fixed path and also were forced to kill a number of offspring of the Atreides line in order to prevent another Kwistatz Haderach from controlling their destiny ever again. The Bene Tleilax claim to have bred their own Kwisatz Haderach. The Tleilax ran into the same problems the Bene Gesserit had with Paul Atreides: they were unable to control their creation. He eventually committed suicide.

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