Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 94
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much show as [he] could" not only indicates his ostentation, but establishes him as a libertine
who thrives on attention. He succeeds as a libertine in terms of his desire to own an expensive
wardrobe and his desire to take expensive lodgings-manifestations of his need as well as the
libertine need to impress others. Obtaining such material possessions aids Boswell in asserting
his superiority over others, which in turn, allows him to compete successfully with other
What differentiates Boswell from fictional libertines such as Don John and Homrner is that
he does not resort to extreme lengths just so he can encompass every aspect of libertinism. Of
course, he does not squander his income (like his contemporary self-identified libertine Samuel
Pepys) or commit crimes such as theft just so he can maintain the expensive lifestyle to which he
is accustomed and continue successfully wooing women. Instead, he simply develops a budget
to which he can adhere and saves his income so he can purchase the appropriate wardrobe and
continue living in his apartments-behaviors rendered acceptable in the constantly fluctuating
definition of libertinism.
Boswell's Attempts at Conventional Libertinism
Boswell's expressions of bitterness and anger with those who wronged him and his vows
to exact revenge upon them-for example, the Louisa debacle-typify the selfish libertine figure
we see in Don John and Homrner. Moreover, Boswell exhibits this behavior when he demands
that Louisa repay the two guineas that he loaned to her. In the journal entry in which he includes
the letter demanding repayment of Louisa's debt, Boswell refers to Louisa as "treacherous" and
decides that she must "suffer for her depravity" (Boswell 174-75). In the correspondence with
her, he instructs her to send the money without a letter or note, thus emphasizing his lack of
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Smith, Victoria. Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell, dissertation, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6051/m1/100/?q=rochester: accessed February 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .