Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 58
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wooing women merely for sexual satisfaction-transcends friendly rivalry and instead functions
as a way in which he can protect his identities as an alpha male and as an alternative authority to
social institutions rather than a rebellious challenger of them.
Don John's desire and need to establish power-over both his friends and institutional
authority-not only exemplifies his constantly shifting agenda and similarly changing definition
of libertinism, but simultaneously supersedes the Cavalier views of friendship. Cavaliers were
followers of Charles I as opposed to the Roundheads, or supporters of Parliament. These
members of the royal court were lyricists who composed "lighthearted poems" and included
Thomas Carew, Richard Lovelace, and Sir John Suckling (83). These lyrics were also "graceful,
melodious, and polished in manner; artfully showing Latin classical influences; sometimes
licentious and cynical or epigrammatic and witty" (83). Many of these poems were occasional
and emphasized themes of "love, war, chivalry, and loyalty to the king" (83).
One important component of the libertine need and desire to submit to patriarchal social
institutions is their endorsement of Cavalier ideals of friendship. The socio-sexual aspect of the
Cavalier strain dictates that men must place more importance on homosocial, Platonic
friendships than romantic relationships and casual liaisons with women. In his essay "On
Friendship" (1580), Michel de Montaigne describes women and their capabilities in terms of
Platonic friendships. He writes, "Besides, to tell the truth, the ordinary capacity of women is
inadequate for the communion and fellowship which is the nurse of this sacred bond; nor does
their soul seem firm enough to endure the strain of so tight and durable a knot" (Montainge 60).
Since women, according to Montaigne, are unable to cultivate and maintain Platonic friendships
as skillfully as men, Cavaliers must rely on homosocial bonding with men for optimal
friendships. Cavaliers consider their relationships with fellow Cavaliers as more reliable and less
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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/m1/64/?q=rochester: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .