Lady Jessica makes a decision based on love and changes the course of history in the Dune universe. How many fictional mothers can say that?
I remember when I first read the Dune books, how powerful a figure Jessica seemed, how sure of herself and how determined. She goes against her breeding and her training to give a male heir to her lover Duke Leto instead of a female and, in doing so, produces Paul Atreides, the man destined to be the Kwisatz Haderach, a prophesied messiah. She never seems discontent with the circumstances that lead to her remaining a courtesan to Leto, rather than becoming his wife. When the Atreides household is betrayed and attacked, Lady Jessica and Paul have to survive on their own in the harsh, unforgiving Arrakis desert. She is pregnant and exhausted but manages to survive. Later, she takes the poisonous Waters of Life and transmutes the liquid into a safer form so she can survive and become a Reverend Mother to the tribesmen of the deserts.
Throughout the story, Jessica remains a fascinating, strong character who alters the fate of worlds through one act and is strong enough and wise enough to live with the consequences.