Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 69
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obsessed with his role as an authority figure, Don John feels threatened when he must confront
the demons and Don Pedro's ghost about his sins. Since domination over others is important to
Don John and he cannot handle competition with others for power, he chooses to ignore the
warnings of the Ghost. Therefore, he cannot allow any sort of authority to rule him, much less a
supernatural authority. Don John chastises the Ghost of Don Pedro for keeping a mistress during
his lifetime, "not forgetting [his] sweet Sister" (Libertine 81). Essentially, Don John holds his
father accountable for committing similar crimes during his lifetime. Therefore, he cannot and
will not see him as a proper authority because, according to Don John, Don Pedro is a hypocrite
and even less worthy of obedience than social institutions.
Similarly, the treatment of the supernatural in the final scene of the play functions as a
satire of libertinism. When the devils appear to the Dons singing of their plans to take Don John
and his friends to hell, the ridiculousness of it renders the play a satire about misinterpreting
libertinism. Don John defies the devils even after the ground opens and swallows Don Antonio
and Don Lopez. Unphased, Don John says, "Think not to fright me, foolish Ghost; I'll break
your Marble body in pieces, and pull down your Horse" (Libertine 91). Kaufman writes:
...the ending seems to jar with the rest of the play. Don John, portrayed throughout as
puppetlike, a burlesque figure, suddenly becomes heroic! Faced with the traditional
confrontation with the forces of divine retribution, Shadwell makes Don John entirely
courageous. He faces his destruction with bravery, without compromising his horrible
principles. The emphasis on heroism goes beyond the more ambiguous endings of Tirso
and Moliere, where we may or may not find Don Juan a heroic figure (Kaufman 249).
However, when read as a satire, the ending does flow with the rest of the play. Throughout the
play, Don John and his libertine counterparts have taken an outrageous approach to libertinism
and have made similarly outrageous justifications for committing crimes. Don John does not
appear heroic or courageous, but instead appears ridiculous. Instead of relinquishing his control
and admitting he exhibited poor judgment and behavior in his life-arguably a more heroic
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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/m1/75/?q=rochester: accessed February 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .