Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 41
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wanting to pursue pleasure, he sees pleasure as "no less delusory as the hope of attaining
serenity" (Fabricant 18). This "misuse" of reason excludes any consideration of instincts and the
narrator, in chastising mankind for denying instinct and using reason incorrectly, advocates and
reconciles both libertinism and right reason.
Ultimately, the narrator simultaneously endorses libertinism and a logical application of
reason, or right reason, rather than discursive reason. This discursive reason involves ignoring
one's instincts and obeying a routine, strict lifestyle that does not accommodate one's instinct or
nature unless doing so adheres to the stringent routine or even schedule to which much of
mankind submits. Though Wilcoxon identifies Rochester the poet as "an ethical hedonist," we
can certainly apply her definition to the poetic persona's outlook regarding following instincts
and reason (Wilcoxon 197). While hedonistic in terms of obeying his instincts, Rochester's
narrator does not limit himself to following libertinism and instinct, but instead, advocates using
right reason to moderate his libertinism. Once he balances his libertine behavior and his
obedience to right reason, he can more effectively achieve his goal of obtaining and maintaining
an optimal existence. More specifically, the narrator's obedience to right reason and his
moderation of instinctual, libertine behavior that results from modifying his life renders him a
libertine follower of Hobbes's actual theory. However, he chooses parts of Leviathan that fit his
needs in terms of his classicism. That is, his view that institutional rules do not apply to him due
to his status as an upper-class libertine makes his interpretations of Hobbes willful misreadings.
Right Reason and Libertinism in "The Maim'd Debauchee"
Rochester reconfigures the libertine and his attitude towards libertinism and reason in
"The Maim'd Debauchee" and proposes ways for the young and the old to embrace libertinism
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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/m1/47/?q=rochester: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .