Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 61
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Let's on, and live the noble life of Sense.
To all the powers of Love and mighty Lust,
In spight of formal Fops I will be just.
What ways soe're conduce to my delight,
My Sense instructs me, I must think 'em right.
On, on my Soul, and make no stop in pleasure,
They're dull insipid Fools that live by measure. (The Libertine 28)
This opening scene establishes Don John as the character who gave the men a false sense of
liberty and individual independence by persuading them to use sense as their guide instead of
reason and virtue. In pledging their allegiance and expressing gratitude to Don John, the men do
not develop their own identities, but are actually bound by and submitting to a new authority in
Don John and his misinterpreted Hobbesianism.
However, the Dons do not misapply all tenets of libertinism or of Hobbes's philosophy;
instead, they contradict themselves in that they adamantly refuse to obey any form of authority,
yet allow themselves to submit to Don John and to nature. Though they do interpret Hobbes as
an advocate for a virtually anarchic form of libertinism that operates outside the parameters of
social authority, they simultaneously contradict themselves in that they interpret Hobbes's basic
premise that one should live according to Nature and implicitly, "right" reason. Moreover, Don
John unwaveringly exerts power over the other Dons and essentially becomes the social
authority to which, or in this case to whom, he expects them to submit.
Don John as Aristotelian Friend
As noted earlier, Don John assumes the role of authority figure to his libertine friends.
As an advocate of an extreme version of libertinism, he cannot and will not befriend men out of
any genuine, selfless feelings; to him, his friends are a means to an end or barriers for him to
break so that he can seek and obtain instant gratification. Instead of prioritizing his Cavalier
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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/m1/67/?q=rochester: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .