Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 59
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"transient" than those with females because male friends remain loyal and dependable until
death. According to Earl Miner, this view of homosocial male friendships as superior to
heterosexual relationships allows men a more effective way "to absorb... [the] emotional force
of love" (Miner 252). In short, men are more capable of engaging in long-lasting friendships
than women, hence the priority of masculinist bonding over heterosexual friendships and
romantic relationships. Cavaliers, like libertines, are wealthy gentlemen who engage in a
friendly rivalry with their fellow cavaliers. The power Shadwell's Don John wishes to exude
over the Dons contrasts from the friendly rivalry in which cavaliers typically engage. Ironically,
this power resembles the power that social institutions enforce on libertines-the power Don
John and his friends wish to overthrow.
Instead of respecting his friends and seeing them as equals and fellow Cavaliers, Don
John views his friends-who, incidentally, willingly obey Don John-as his subjects who must
submit to his authority, which includes aiding him in toppling institutional rule. Don Lopez
even goes so far as to say, "Don John, thou art our Oracle; thou hast/ Dispell'd the Fumes which
once clowded our Brains"-the fumes refer to education and both conventional reason and "right
reason" (The Libertine 25). Don John feels the need not only to make them aware of his power
but to exert it and makes sure they do not forget that he is their leader. According to Don
Antonio, Don John releases them from the shackles of institutional authority represented by
formal education. Don Antonio says:
By thee, we have got loose from Education,
And the dull savagery of Pupillage,
Recover'd all the liberty of Nature,
Our own strong Reason now can go alone,
Without the feeble props of splenatick Fools,
Who contradict our common Mother, Nature. (The Libertine 25, my emphasis)4
4 All quotes from The Libertine are taken from The Complete Works of Thomas Shadwell, ed. Montague Summers,
v. 3. (London 1927). Due to a lack of scene and line numbers, this play will be cited by play and page number.
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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/m1/65/?q=rochester: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .