Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 37
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place in nature" (Sitter 288). Man, because of his devotion to reason and his refusal to let his
instinct guide and instruct him, relinquishes his position in nature as an animal, and becomes an
inferior being-this makes the narrator's alignment with libertinism questionable. If the narrator
implies affiliation with the libertine way of life and does not adhere to any sort of institutional
authority, including God or an alternate type of Supreme Being, then his statement is
contradictory, at least in terms of the ways libertines typically misinterpret Hobbes to conform to
their own desires.
In defining his identity as one assigned to him rather than chosen by him, the narrator
admits that he has no significant control over forming his identity; the poetic persona, then, by
admitting that a Supreme Being-a representative of institutional authority-assigned an identity
to him demonstrates that he doubts and does not feel confident in self-imposed authority.
According to Dustin Griffin, "Man is an animal, but distinguishable from other animals because
of his vanity; he is not animal rationale, but an animal proud of being rational" (Griffin 206).
Griffin is right in the distinction he makes between a rational animal and an animal that prides
himself upon acting rational. Man must find a more suitable, healthy approach to life and
modify his behavior accordingly; for Rochester's narrator, that means men must modify their
uses of reason and libertinism in their lives.
The ways in which the poetic persona's mutually supporting views in terms of advocating
and opposing libertinism as a preferred model of behavior and reason as a less palatable mode of
behavior continue in his discussion of the fate of older individuals. Though the narrator
characterizes reason as leading those who follow it through "Pathless and dang'rous ways" (1.
14), he sees the role of right reason as a school of thought necessary for one to obey when one
reaches old age. In fact, Thomas Fujimura asserts the following about the narrator's argument
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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/m1/43/?q=rochester: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .