Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 65
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libertinism. This construction of the libertine applies to Don John especially when we consider
his relationships with women. Don John, similar to his refusal to accept familial duty, refuses to
accept responsibility and to follow through on his promises and commitments to women. In fact,
the only authority to which he submits is the one he imposes upon himself and his libertine
counterparts-his own anarchic, chaotic libertinism. Instead of committing to one woman, Don
John takes marriage vows with numerous women and will not stop doing so until he has "as
many Wives and Concubines as the Grand Signior" (Libertine 43). He uses these women for his
own sexual pleasure without giving a thought to their love for him or the fact that he has taken a
vow of marriage. Once he extracts all the pleasure from them, and perhaps money and other
material objects from them, he quits the parasitic relationship with one host and merely switches
to another host and continues the cycle. Examples of this parasite/host relationship include Don
John's relationship with Leonora and his treatment of the six women who claim him as their
Don John's obsession with maintaining power affects his sexual encounters with and
treatment of women. Michael Alssid writes, "[Don John] shares with the heroes of Restoration
heroic tragedy a superhuman dynamism and lawlessness, but he differs from them in that he
cannot subject ultimately his ego to the dictates of an ideal lady or power" (Alssid 107, my
emphasis). However, Don John spends the entirety of the play defying authority, so even if he
were able to accept another as an authority figure and obey them, it is doubtful he would do so
willingly. In fact, Don John bases all of his decisions and actions-his whole life, in fact-on
his need to dominate others, including his sexual conquests. He and his fellow Cavaliers engage
in and enjoy sex more for the feelings of dominance and establishing control over others than the
act itself. Don John will even go so far as to "ravish" a woman "old or young, ugly or
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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/m1/71/?q=rochester: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .