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According to the Dictionary of Muad'Dib by the Princess Irulan, Yueh was a Doctor of the Suk School of Medicine. He was married to a Bene Gesserit adept named Wanna Marcus. Yueh graduated from the Suk School in 10112 AG, at the age of 30. Little is known of his life between this point and 10185 AG when he entered into the service of House Atreides, at the age of 103. He was described as a tall, thin man with long, grey hair tied in a braid with a suk ring that hung around his shoulder, a droopy moustache, and of course the diamond tattoo emblazoned on his forehead.
As a graduate of the Suk School, Yueh was imparted with Imperial Conditioning which prevented him from taking human life. However, for Yueh's devotion to his work and his life, he would go down in history as the first instance that Imperial Conditioning could be broken, and the betrayer of Duke Leto Atreides.
In the Service of House AtreidesEdit
When Yueh entered into Atreides service, Paul Atreides was nine years old. Paul was quite fond of Yueh and Yueh felt an avuncular affection for the young Atreides, even to the point of giving Paul a special gift, an Orange Catholic Bible once the possession of Yueh's beloved wife Wanna.
Indeed, it was for Wanna that Yueh would eventually betray his friends. Baron Vladimir Harkonnen Mentat, Piter de Vries, developed a method to drive Yueh mad and thereby defeat his Imperial Conditioning. Ultimately, Wanna was part of de Vries' scheme to destroy House Atreides. She was abducted by the Harkonnens approximately seven years before Yueh's death. Yueh therefore entered into Atreides service a year after she was abducted. For the Atreides, no other Suk Doctor could be more appropriate; as far as they were concerned, Yueh and his wife were simply more victims of Harkonnen cruelty. Unfortunately for the Atreides, whatever the Harkonnens did to Wanna only served to emotionally enslave the doctor to the Harkonnens.
According to Bronso, Yueh went through a prolonged spiritual and emotional depression about the loss of his wife. He submitted to extended psycho-counseling sessions, after which in 10188 AG he personally conducted a memorial service for Wanna and finally grieved her passing.
Four months before the Atreides left for Arrakis, Yueh is known to have been away from the family estate, traveling on a medical inspection to a village. It is speculated by the Alia priesthood that four Sardaukar and a female (possibly Wanna) traveled to Caladan in a nearby village spending only one evening, and Yueh met that Guild transport and saw Wanna alive under guard. Having seen his beloved, Yueh agreed to betray Duke Leto, hoping thus to free his wife.
It was made known to him by de Vries that if he performed Harkonnen bidding and betrayed Duke Leto, his beloved wife would be freed, or at least, he would know the truth about her fate. Yueh had become a weak-willed, confused, desperate and lonely man who would do anything in his power to learn the truth about Wanna. Thus, receiving inconsistent Harkonnen messages about Wanna, Yueh was driven to madness, and the Imperial Conditioning was broken. Finally his love for Wanna and his love for his Duke moved him in opposite, contradictory directions. He acted as a loving husband who could hope to save only one of the two people he loved most. He hoped to save Wanna. It is possible that he believed that no matter what he did he could not save Duke Leto from his fate. It is also possible that he attempted to redeem himself in some way by helping the Lady Jessica and Paul escape the Harkonnen trap.
BetrayalEditYueh laid a trap for Duke Leto in the Keep at Arrakeen, just before the Harkonnen invasion. Yueh stabbed the Duke with a poison dart, and while he was paralysed he replaced one of the Duke's teeth with a false one that could expel poisonous gas. The idea was that the Duke would have an opportunity to kill the Baron, using the poisoned gas tooth. Unfortunately, the plan failed, and the Duke was killed. Yueh died by the hand of de Vries, stabbed in the back by the twisted Mentat who had come to the logical conclusion that the traitor had outlived his usefulness. He died with the knowledge that his wife had in fact been dead for years, slain by the Harkonnens and kept a secret, so that he could do their bidding.
Like Jessica, out of a misguided love Yueh set in motion events that ultimately led humanity through the desert of the ancient feudal rivalries, into the long peace and Golden Path of the Atreides Imperium by having lost the one he loved out of betrayal. Unlike her, he was driven mad by it, and lost his own life in the process. However, both Jessica's and Yueh's lives illustrate the point that there can sometimes be immense consequences, when love gets in the way of duty. Yueh played a crucial role in the annals of history. Were it not for Yueh, it is likely there would have been no Paul Muad'Dib, no fall of the Corrino dynasty, no rise of the Fremen, no liberation of Arrakis, nor even the great God-Emperor Leto II and The Scattering in which humankind was released from its unitary destiny.
Yueh's actual role in the downfall of Duke Leto Atreides remained difficult for historians to ascertain because of conflicting and incomplete reports. They could not determine when that act of betrayal did occur, what was Yueh's role, his thoughts and whether ever was an alleged "final confrontation" between Duke Leto and the Baron Harkonnen. If indeed there was such a confrontation, not one witness lived long enough to record accurately and without bias that turning point of human history.
- Even the Atreides family journals were unclear. The earliest relevant published Version was in The Irulan Report where Yueh is described as the "betrayer of Duke Leto Atreides" (p. 81; Published under its alternate title, Analysis: The Arrakeen Crisis trans. Doorsh Suuwaa, Arrakis Studies 20 (Grumman: United Worlds)). Irulan was not present at the moment of the alleged betrayal, but she promulgates the official Atreides family position that the Baron could not have possibly prevailed against House Atreides without the assistance of a villainous traitor. Irulan may have been too eager to please the Atreides. She also maintained that his motive was not to seek Wanna's freedom, but finally to put to rest all of his private doubts about her death.
- Muad'Dib never spoke publicly on the issue but neither did he contradict Irulan's claims and obviously was content with this position. It's not known if he really believed the theory or he needed a 'Judas' to keep his empire and religion firm. The Preacher of Arrakis, was quoted as saying, "Every religion needs its Judas just as badly as it needs its saints." (Quoted in Naib Guaddaf's Judgment on Arrakeen RCC 29-Z182).
- Alia and the Priesthood
- Alia during her youth and in the early days of her Regency, considered that his Imperial Conditioning failed and that he betrayed his Duke. However, toward the end she is said to have confided to her personal guards that she regarded Yueh as a hero who died in defense of his Duke, but this must have to do with her being an abomination by the persona of Baron Harkonnen. The priesthood was concerned to preserve its religious authority. The priests of Alia's time regarded Yueh as the Atreides betrayer and were dogmatically committed to the view that Yuen's motive for betraying Duke Leto was to win Wanna's freedom from the Harkonnens.
- Thufir Hawat
- Thufir Hawat is also thought to have held the same view. Shortly before his death, as he traveled to Dune in the Harkonnen and Corrino entourage, he told Irulan that he had suspected the Lady Jessica to have been the traitor. Hawat apparently thought that Yueh was killed defending the family Atreides.
- Suk School
- The Suk School apologists were eager only to be rid of the scandal of Yueh.
- During their systematic inquisitions into the heretical views of their rivals, the Ixians, they condemned a number of outspoken scholars and historians to death, including Bronso of Ix, accused of many traitorous "crimes", like maintaining that Yueh was merely an innocent victim of a classic feudal economic and political rivalry. Bronso saw Yueh as of no possible value in military terms to either the Harkonnens or the Atreides. He noted that Yueh's chief concerns during his final years were for the medical welfare of the Atreides and their Caladanian subjects. He also was largely occupied by concern for the safety of his wife, Wanna, whom the Harkonnens had taken as a political prisoner (approximately seven years before Yueh's death), knowing that Wanna could not have survived more than a few months of her captivity (See Chapter 2 of his The Atreides Imperium, Lib. Conf. Temporary Series 70).
- The political significance of these claims would not have been lost on Alia's priesthood. Man's opinion was similar, but clearly more sophisticated, as one might expect from a near-adept of the Bene Gesserit. Although sure of himself, Bronso was, at bottom, merely speculating and as an Ixian may have been generally hostile to the Atreides.
- Other theories
- Yueh appears to have been given High College Imperial Conditioning, although the book The Great Masquerade: Yueh and the Atreides by Professor Eisor Zhurcia claimed that Yueh was a trained assassin and his condition papers were forged. This thesis was widely accepted by several of the Minor Houses during the early years of Paul's reign but later evidence suggests that Yueh exhibited a considerable amount of medical expertise and human sensitivity, characteristics generally not found in saboteurs and assassins. Later opinion held that Yueh indeed did graduate with High College Imperial Conditioning in approximately 10112 AG. Yueh thus came to be regarded as the paradigmatic case of the fatal failure of Suk Conditioning.
We can thus likely rule out Irulan's hypothesis that Yueh was a malicious traitor as well as the Suk interpretation that he was an assassin. We are then left with three other possibilities
- 1. There is clear evidence that the Suk of that era knew the dangers of insanity and privately warned all who purchased Suk doctors that the Imperial Conditioning against disloyalty could not be guaranteed if the doctor went insane. The buyers were advised to be aware of telltale signs of insanity. It has been argued that Yueh was insane, driven to madness by inconsistent Harkonnen messages about Wanna, a theory advanced by criminologist, Duncan Idaho-11736 (the original of the report has disappeared, but Leto's transcription may be found in his Journal, RCC 2-A213), which maintains that the Piter de Vries developed a method to drive Yueh mad and thereby defeat his Imperial Conditioning. As a Mentat, Piter de Vries would have been familiar with methods of disrupting members of his own Order, and may have reasoned that they might work on Yueh. In Yueh's case there had been his depression on Caladan, noted earlier.
However, there were no signs of a relapse and no other signs of insanity in Yueh's behavior. Nonetheless, Idaho maintained that Yueh's encounter with the face dancer Wanna shortly before his leaving the familiar Caladan for the inhospitable Dune was the shock that drove Yueh mad. Yueh's actions after that point moved toward betrayal not out of hate, but out of an insane doubt and manic paranoia. Idaho laments that his former self, the original Idaho, was so occupied with preparations for Dune that he failed to detect Yueh's insanity.
The chief counter-evidence to this interpretation is that Yueh's insanity and his plotting with the Harkonnens escaped the notice of the entire Atreides household including Paul, Hawat the Mentat, and Jessica, the Bene Gesserit adept. That insanity could go unnoticed for so long seems unlikely. On the other hand, that Leto II allowed Idaho to advance the view gives it some credibility in the light of Leto II's renowned quasi-omniscience.
- 2. The second hypothesis, incompetence, was proposed later by one of Siona's descendants, Ritah al-Jofar Nisri Atreides in her Factors in the Yueh Betrayal (Studies in Imperial History, OS 146:449-70) who maintained that Yueh was indeed desperate with the false hope that Wanna lived, but that he was perfectly sane, and that no one in the Atreides household suspected Yueh of treachery. Ritah paints a picture of Yueh as a weak-willed, confused, desperate and lonely man who would do anything in his power to learn the truth about Wanna. Ritah's position is harsh; she scoffs at Yueh, saying that one did not have to be a Mentat to know beyond doubt that Wanna would never be freed. Further, Yueh would have to have been a complete fool not to know that by his act of betrayal all manner of evil consequences would befall the Atreides. Yueh, according to Ritah, should be held individually and personally accountable for the fall of Duke Leto, the seizure of Dune by the Harkonnens, the death of many loyal Atreides subjects, and the permanent ruin of the Suk School's reputation.
- 3. The third view, that Yueh acted out of love, albeit a desperate and perhaps misguided passion is based on suggestions found in the Journal of Nayla. (Her Journal in RCC 2-A816 makes any reference to Yueh, but the divided loyalties of the two share many features, and the comparison can be instructive.) One can see in Yueh, as in Nayla, a profound personal tension between conflicting imperatives. To obey his Imperial Conditioning he should be loyal to that person whose medical welfare he was guarding. Yet Yueh's Imperial Conditioning did not specify exactly who that person was. As the years passed in ease on Caladan, Yueh could comfortably serve Duke Leto and his family. But when Wanna was taken from him he became desperate and confused. Finally his love for Wanna and his love for his Duke moved him in opposite, contradictory directions. He acted not as a fool, not as a madman, but as a lover who could hope to save only one of the two people he loved most. He hoped to save Wanna, perhaps believing that no matter what he did he could not save Duke Leto from the superior forces of the Harkonnens. We do know that his love led him to give his life helping Lady Jessica and Paul escape the Harkonnen trap.
Behind the ScenesEdit
In the 1984 Dune movie, Dr. Wellington Yueh was portrayed by actor Dean Stockwell.