Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 40
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assertion is correct, especially when one considers the "false reas'ning" the narrator mentions.
The poetic persona does not endorse excluding reason from one's life. Instead, he tries to
persuade his audience that obedience to right reason does not imply that one must eliminate or
ignore instinctual, typically libertine behavior. Moreover, "false reasoning," according to the
poetic persona, is a restrictive version of reason that, when applied, makes one prone to applying
inflexible, stringent rules to one's life.
The narrator opposes obedience to reason when it results in a person sacrificing their
basic human needs for survival. He explains to the internal audience the distinction between the
right reason to which he submits and the type of reason they obey. He contrasts the two
definitions of reason in the following lines:
Your Reason hinders, mine helps t'enjoy.
Renewing Appetites, yours would destroy.
My Reason is my Friend, yours is a Cheat,
Hunger calls out, my Reason bids me eat;
Perversely yours, your Appetite does mock,
This asks for Food, that answers what's a Clock? (Satyr 1. 104-109)
As evidenced by the above lines, the narrator's application of reason allows him to sustain his
libertine activities while simultaneously obeying the "right reason" that he endorses. Hobbes, in
fact, endorses a similar point of view in his proposal of social contracts. Entering these social
contracts enables humans to escape the solitary life brought about by states of war and affords
them security of a man's "person, in his life, and in the means of so preserving life as not to be
weary of it" (Hobbes 66). In A Satyr Against Mankind, "man's ability to reason is not denied,
but his misuse of reason makes him, if not below the animals, certainly the stupidest" (Wilcoxon
83). Wilcoxon's assertion makes sense in terms of the contrasts the poetic persona makes
between reason and right reason. The narrator does not dismiss reason altogether, but instead,
criticizes mankind's interpretation and use of reason. Rather than cautioning man against
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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/m1/46/?q=rochester: accessed February 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .