Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 30
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for satisfying those desires, oftentimes impatient to receive instant gratification rather than
patiently waiting for their needs and desires to be fulfilled. Implicitly, then, Hobbes promotes
choosing a sovereign to maintain order in a commonwealth because without a commonwealth or
a civil government, participants in the state of nature will always be prone to yielding to the
temptation to make decisions based on what fulfills their individual needs and wants rather than
acting selflessly and choosing what best accommodates the necessities of the majority of
citizens. The state of nature, therefore, is less democratic and more focused on the individual
than what commonwealths in which all people are politically equal and deserve consideration of
their wants and needs individually and collectively. Gordon summarizes the struggle individuals
face between choosing to follow the state of nature and deciding to live in a commonwealth that
involves electing and obeying a sovereign. He writes:
Confronted with ideologies that require individuals to reject selfish and choose
disinterested behaviors, Hobbes insists that 'till it please God to give men an
extraordinary, and supernaturall grace', we will always choose what we imagine will
benefit ourselves. Each individual, Hobbes contends, is little more than a 'Tennis-Ball,'
controlled rather than controlling, ceaselessly batted about by desires and interests. (54)
Libertines, of course, choose self-indulgent behaviors-those that presumably resemble acts
committed in the state of nature-over behaving selflessly and taking their fellow citizens and
their interests into consideration-those that more closely mimic acts of those participating in a
commonwealth. As mentioned previously, in Shadwell's The Libertine, Don John revels in
committing crimes, especially rape, and his actions are motivated by selfishness and blind
obedience to instincts-similar to those who live in the anarchic state of nature.
Don John's shamelessness and self-centeredness manifest themselves in a rape he
commits in front of his libertine counterparts. In fact, Don John even admits he has no qualms
about raping an elderly woman on the street simply because he is able to do so and knows that
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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/m1/36/?q=rochester: accessed February 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .