Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 21
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in ways similar to those of Don John of Shadwell's The Libertine (1674). For example, Don
John murders men and rapes women who are the romantic interests of his friends or
acquaintances simply because he wants to do so and because he wants to establish power of these
men and women. This type of violence that Don John engages in is a form of pre-emptive
violence in that Don John participates in it to ensure his role as authority figure before others
may attempt to overthrow him or simply view themselves as the person in power.
Where real and fictional libertines, including Shadwell's Don John, tend to misinterpret
Hobbes or quote him out of context is in their support of the state of nature. Hobbes considers
the state of nature full of flaws and imperfections, as well as an unappealing place in which to
live at best, and at worst, a dangerous condition in which often fatal consequences such as never-
ending violence and infinite war exist. Libertines, however, disagree with Hobbes and promote
living in the state of nature. They are even less likely to advocate living in a Christian
commonwealth because it requires obedience to two social institutions instead of just one-God
and civil government, two of several social authorities against which libertines typically rebel.
Libertines and Hobbes
In Book I, chapter X of Leviathan, Hobbes discusses his interpretations of ideas about
what constitutes-and sometimes what does not qualify-as power, worth, dignity, honor, and
worthiness. He defines each of these terms and provides reasons as to why the examples he
includes for each term qualifies. For example, in the section in which he describes various types
of power, he describes what he calls the "Greatest of humane Powers" (41). He writes:
The Greatest of humane Powers, is that which is compounded of the Powers of most
men, united by consent, in one person, Naturall, or Civill, that has the use of all their
Powers depending on his will; such as is the Power of a Common-wealth: Or depending
on the wills of each particular; such as is the Power of a Faction, or of divers factions
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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/m1/27/?q=rochester: accessed May 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .