Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 73
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his own selfish agenda his primary priority over facilitating his homosocial friendships with his
fellow Cavaliers and libertines. Assuming the guise of a eunuch will help him to engage in
extramarital affairs with his friends' wives and enable him to participate with a relatively
insincere motivation, at least in terms of his willingness to deceive his friends and risk losing
these friendships, in masculinist bonding with his fellow Cavaliers.
In feigning impotence and risking receiving the label of eunuch and the social stigma that
accompanies it, Wycherley's Homrner can "abuse the husbands" and "soon disabuse the wives"
(The Country Wife I. i. 181-82). Though he does not need to resort to extreme actions such as
rape, murder, and other criminal activities that physically affect others the way Don John does,
he willingly resorts to ruining his reputation about his virility so he can trick his friends into
allowing him to take liberties-i.e. sexual intercourse and social interaction-with their wives.
According to Robert Markley, "Plain dealing for [Homrner] is an affectation, yet his affectation
paradoxically verges on plain dealing" (Markley 163). He engages in "plain dealing" with the
wives in that he reveals the falsity of the eunuch rumor to them, but not to their husbands (163).
Wycherley's Homrner ultimately sides with the women, which simultaneously feminizes Homrner
and reinforces his reputation as a rake with unstoppable sexual prowess even if only to the
knowledge of the wives and not the husbands he cuckolds. Hornier, then, fails to meet the
expectations of the Cavaliers and Aristotelian views of friendship because he is willing to
deceive his friends into believing he can no longer pose a threat to them when he really poses a
greater threat to them under the guise of a eunuch.
The fact that Wycherley's Horner-a supposed fellow Cavalier and fictional libertine-
poses a threat to the men renders him an unfit Cavalier; moreover, his desire to engage in
unreciprocated competition-that is, competition without all the competitors' knowledge of their
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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/m1/79/?q=rochester: accessed September 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .