Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 10
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subverting them within the parameters set by them) makes him a satirical libertine who
advocates rebellion against the followers of all schools of thought that prevent him from
fulfilling his goals. In addition, Shadwell's Don John serves as a negative portrayal of cavaliers.
Initially, Cavaliers were poet royalists who followed Charles I (1625-1649), and the opposers to
the crown were called Roundheads (Harmon 83). They composed "light-hearted poems" and
included poets such as "Thomas Carew, Richard Lovelace, and Sir John Suckling" (83). They
were primarily soldiers and courtiers and "authors of lyrics only incidentally" (83). These often
occasional poems "breathed the careless braggadocio of the military swashbuckler, at times the
aristocratic ease of the peaceable courtier" (83). In the reign of Charles I, the Interregnum, and
through the Restoration, Cavalier poetry describes "an England at peace (or hopefully at peace),
dedicated to ancient rights of king and subject, liberal to friends and dependents, given to love,
drink, song, angling and hunting, certain of the value of learning, and espoused (with certain
infidelities) to the Anglican via media" (Miner 84). Also, I will argue that Shadwell's negative
representation of the Cavaliers (men who engage in homosocial, Platonic friendship and place
more importance upon these friendships than on casual liaisons and romantic relationships with
women), together with Don John's automatic loyalty to instincts and nature ultimately serve as
critiques of libertinism itself and libertines.
Don John's misinterpretation of conventional libertinism and Hobbesian philosophy leads
him and his libertine counterparts to endorse an unusual kind of libertinism. H. James Jensen
writes, "The Libertine is essentially a story of Hobbesian assumptions run amok, with no real
check on the gratification of antisocial individual appetites and passions of powerful, amoral
aristocrats" (363). Shadwell, through Don John and his cohorts, satirizes libertinism, Hobbes's
philosophical tenets, and tragedy as a genre. Similarly, Shadwell, a Whig, uses the theater,
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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/m1/16/?q=rochester: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .