Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 52
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the five preceding stanzas. Instead, this line and the rest of the poem signify the libertine need
for accommodating his personal agenda regardless of its affect on others and the many
fluctuations and contradictions inherent in each change to the definition of libertinism.
Rochester's libertines run the gamut in terms of the ways in which they approach
libertinism and reason. The poetic personae of A Satyr Against Mankind and "The Maim'd
Debauchee" successfully integrate reason and libertinism via an obedience to libertinism and
"right reason." Their loyalty to both ideas implicitly makes both narrators successful interpreters
of Hobbesian philosophy.
The poetic persona of "Upon His Drinking a Bowl," similar to the personae mentioned
above, falls short of embodying the traits of the conventional libertine. However, this persona
differs from his two counterparts in the manifestation of his divided loyalties between libertinism
and reason. The narrator's seemingly sole devotion to his fellow libertines makes him a more
conventional libertine. However, his return to reason and institutional authority transforms his
portrayal of himself from a typical libertine to a self-contradictory libertine. All three poetic
personae cannot live up to any sort of libertine ideal because qualifying as a libertine entails
frequent revisions in their interpretations of libertinism that their constantly shifting desires and
agendas require them to make.
Rochester, then, recognizes the tenuousness in creating a precise definition of libertinism.
While his libertine narrators seemingly possess traits deemed stereotypically libertine, they
challenge, satirize, and criticize libertinism as a concept with a stable definition. Through their
applications and deliberate misinterpretations of Hobbes, they create their own versions of
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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/m1/58/?q=rochester: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .