Study Guide

Dr. Strangelove Power

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There's all kind of power being thrown around in Dr. Strangelove.

First, we've got the deadly power of nuclear bombs and the Doomsday Machine. We've also got political power, which in this story isn't very effective. There's Strangelove's demented scientific power. Then there's the power that Kubrick satirically suggests is behind all of it—sexual power or lack thereof. The film has Shmoop thinking that if all these powerful men could just get to the bottom of their sexual insecurities, the rest of us would be better off.

You'll notice that women are totally absent from this discussion of power. That's because they didn't have any, except the power to drive men crazy with lust. The idea of a woman in the War Room or the White House would have been completely off the radar back then. Do you think women would be less likely to let the nukes fly?

Questions About Power

  1. Who would you say is the most powerful character in the film? The most powerless? Explain your answers.
  2. How is power shown as a force of destruction in the film? Is it ever shown as a positive force?
  3. What does the film say about President Muffley's power?

Chew on This

Technology is the only "character" in the film with any real power.

Dr. Strangelove depicts powerful men as clowns to highlight the fact that they're ultimately weak on multiple levels.

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