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As the first literary work to be banned on grounds of obscenity in English history, Sodom; or the Quintessence of Debauchery, has thus, for centuries, been considered nothing more than libertine drivel unworthy of academic analysis. This paper argues that the 1676 closet play, most likely penned by John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, delivers a scathing satirical glimpse into the licentious proceedings at the court of Charles II. Using historicism, this critical literary analysis uncovers the context in which Sodom was created and seeks to provide answers for its social and political significance to Restoration scholarship. Although Rochester attacks the religious, social, and political implications during the Restoration, lampoons Charles’ mistresses and makes comparisons between members of the court and the characters in the play, this paper, due to the constraints of the venue, will focus solely on the satirical lampoons against Charles II, his mistresses, and his male favorites.

Keywords: Restoration Literature, Charles II, Satire, Stuart Politics, Libertine, English History, Stuart History


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • English

  • Institution
    • Gainesville

  • Event location
    • Library Technology Center 380

  • Event date
    • 24 March 2017

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Shannon Gilstrap