Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

    The Great Houses which comprise the governing body of the Empire

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Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Postby Harkonnen Historian » 15 Feb 2018 20:13

"I have oftimes met your treachery and this all men know."

Duke Leto and the commentaries by the Princess Irulan would have us believe the Harkonnens were the only real darkness in the universe that Muad'Dib had to face aside from the Imperial House that used their ambition. Our lack of seeing other houses in detail makes it easy to assume House Harkonnen is the only one capable of the things we'd call evil that they did: Slavery, gladiatorial arenas meant to have victims drugged to die slowly of poisoning, and of course their masterful depth of treachey.

Despite that, the slave gladiatorial combat had frequent spectators and several houses minor attended without a hint of moral outrage at the idea of people as property executed for their amusement. Is there any evidence that other houses were any less prone to Harkonnen degrees of cruelty? Leto had no real support despite praise from other Houses, after all, but House Harkonnen had their allies and the Jihad of Muad'Dib wouldn't have so many worlds to depopulate if the Baron was the only leader practicing such methods that violated Paul's "Sense of rightness"
"Morality must always be weighed against practicality."
-Genetic Memory of Vladimir Harkonnen

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Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Postby Serkanner » 16 Feb 2018 09:56

Paulus Atreides, Leto's grandfather, was killed by a bull in an arena. This type of entertainment wasn't only a Harkonnen thing.
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Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Postby distrans » 17 Mar 2018 01:49

I think that the empires feudal organization speaks to a populous which was accepting of inhumanities intolerable today

its a good question who it was that determined to fight the advance of pauls hordes

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Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Postby georgiedenbro » 05 Apr 2018 10:14

I don't think we're meant to believe that only the Harkonnens did terrible things. All major powers would need to use various instruments of force in order to rule. Leto himself employed devices such as propaganda and even mass murder to get the job done. By any modern definition every single power in the Dune universe is a fascist dictatorship. However what sets the Harkonnens apart is that for most other Great Houses the means are simply to achieve and end; the violence is necessary, even if not desired. But for the Harkonnens the violence is an end unto itself; they not only need to use violence, they enjoy it. Rather than being "Human" as the BG put it, they are basically savage animals that act by base instinct rather than calculated need.

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Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Postby distrans » 13 Apr 2018 22:41

ive reading the first book for the first time in probably 20 years

even leto make mention of house atreides perhaps becoming an evil think in order to retain control of arakkis

they talk alot about their manipulations of people and they even have their own ministry of propaganda!

id forgotten that but long suspected they wernt near as good as were lulled into believing simply because of the inherit nature of the system they were apart of at the time

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Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Postby pcqypcqy » 11 Jun 2018 23:40

I'd agree that all houses did questionable things to varying extents. Certainly the Fenrings didn't bat an eyelid when invited to witness Feyd's birthday.

For reasons of brevity, not many (or any?) of the other great houses even get a mention. I'm sure they all do what the need to do to stay in power.

Clearly though no one else other than the emperor had a prison planet, Count Fenring makes it clear that this would require the emperor's permission (and may just occasion a nice visit from your local Sardaukar legion).

Later on the series, it's made clear that at least Duncan Idaho considers the Harkonnen to be the worst of the worst. Though Moneo sets him straight on this.

"You'd rather she learned to love someone more gross and evil than any Baron
Harkonnen ever dreamed of being," Idaho said.
Moneo worked his lips in and out, then: "The Lord Leto has told me about that
evil old man of your time, Duncan. I don't think you understood your enemy."
"He was a fat, monstrous.. ."
"He was a seeker after sensations," Moneo said. "The fat was a side-effect, then
perhaps something to experience for itself because it offended people and he
enjoyed offending."
"The Baron only consumed a few planets," Idaho said. "Leto consumes the

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Re: Were the Harkonnens evil compared to other Great Houses?

Postby Freakzilla » 15 Jun 2018 20:12

"If I find that you're worse than the Harkonnens, I'll turn against you."
How like a Duncan. They measure all evil against the Harkonnens. How little they know of evil.

Paul of Dune was so bad it gave me a seizure that dislocated both of my shoulders and prolapsed my anus.
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