Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 22
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leagued. Therefore to have servants, is Power; To have friends, is Power: for they are
strengths united. (41)
Notably, the types of power Hobbes attributes to those existing in the state of nature hold a
negative connotation, "Factions" and "divers factions leagued" while the power he identifies for
commonwealths takes on a more positive meaning and exists outside the state of nature and in
civil society (41). The power of commonwealths consists of Powers of most men "united in one
person...that has the use of all their Powers depending on his will" (41). According to Hobbes,
citizens choose this person who holds the power to represent them and use "that which is
compounded of the Powers of most men" for the good of the commonwealth (41).
Based on Hobbes's definition of the "Greatest of humane Powers," libertines qualify as
factions ("the Power of a Faction") or "divers factions leagued" (41). They do not unite their
power for the good of a citizenry or any other such group, but instead come together to wreak
havoc and bring about mayhem and mischief upon the sovereign and those who obey and
recognize him as the sovereign. Libertines often abuse their power and use it to dupe an enemy,
such as Harcourt does to Sparkish in William Wycherley's The Country Wife (1675). Harcourt,
a libertine, disguises himself as a parson and marries his foppish rival, Sparkish, to his love
interest, Alithea. The marriage, of course, is a sham and by the end of the play, the deception is
revealed and Alithea and Harcourt are engaged to be married (The Country Wife IV). However,
the consequences of this kind of trickery do not always result in marriage or other comic, more
positive outcomes. For example, in Thomas Shadwell's The Libertine, Don John and his
libertine cohorts trick a woman with whom Don John wants to copulate into believing he is her
lover, Don Octavio. Don John rapes Maria simply because Don Octavio likes her and because
he wants to add her to his list of sexual conquests, not because he has any sort of emotional
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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/m1/28/?q=rochester: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .