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In Rochester's poem "The Disabled Debauchee" the primary character, the Debauchee himself, presents a facet through which the speaker can impart upon society some sense of the violent emotional upheaval that was valued in his sexual transgressions. By building lines of communication between the reader and the speaker of the poem, and constructing the poem itself in a cyclic pattern similar to the sexual response cycle, the piece of writing becomes its own form of sexual intercourse. While the Debauchee will likely fail in his approach to ameliorating the tragedy of impotence, sexual transgressions become constructed in multiples interrelations in the poem.
The speaker works towards a more realistic picture of his situation by the fourth stanza, finally making clear the topic of the piece of writing, his inevitable decline into impotence. The debauchee finds peace in the fact that he has been "Driv'n from the pleasing Billows of debauch" through his plan to impart his sexual knowledge upon a younger apprentice. Thus, he hopes to assuage his own sexual inability by living vicariously through a younger man. The Debauchee's comparison of his own sexual ventures to the tragedies of war, or lengthy voyages at sea is pushed even further into a realm of absurdity by the succeeding stanza, in which the Debauchee employs his hypothetical apprentice not to be off put by the scars of disease that plague his body nor by the stories told by other "soldiers" (23). Rather than show any signs of penitence, the speaker adopts a wholly hortatory air towards his chosen lifestyle. The bizarre combination of the Debauchee's physical dilapidation and mental contentedness present the readers with a character almost too ridiculous too accept. Particularly, the idea of a decrepit drunk old man, riddled with the pockmarks of venereal diseases, adopting the role of mentor for any younger person is so absurd that he provides an example of an attempt to compensate for sexual failure that is certain to fail. On the other hand, the Debauchee becomes a facet through which the speaker of the poem can counteract his own Impotence.
Instead, the fervent hope to rejuvenate his perverse lifestyle causes the Debauchee to be overcome by a surge of emotion. As a result, he moves away from the advisatory persona that was adopted at the beginning of the poem, and embarks upon a tirade about his highly controversial sexual past. The onset of the emotional upsurge plants within the reader the initial seed of shock and disturbance through the Debauchee's un cordial and caustic pursuit of his personal desires. The Debauchee asserts that he would make a youth overcome anxiety or fear or sexual transgressions with the liquid confidence provided by liquor. Beyond this open disregard for another's true emotional needs, the speakers reveals the strategic manner in which he utilizes his personal demoralization when he claims that, if a youth were to renounce his debaucherous lifestyle in exchange for moral sanctities, he would affront them with tales of his transgressions. It is this strategic use of the speaker's vulgarity that creates the true lines of communication between the reader and the speaker of the poem.
The tempestuous nature of the Debauchee's stories is constructed within the poem on a variety of levels, with the actual scenes providing but one facet through which the speaker constructs an emotional conversation between himself and the reader. Beyond the basic inclusion of violent images and shocking scenarios, the transformation that takes place in the speaker's use of language creates a supplementary source of dismay. Through the incorporation of quotations such as; "wise and daring Conduct" (6), "bold Action"(7), "courage" (2), and "present glory" (8), in the opening stanza's Rochester's poem opens with a tone reminiscent of epic travel tales and heroic conquests of earlier generations. This use of a traditional vocabulary works within a very methodic poetic frame to create a sense of emotional stability. As the Debauchee relives the days of his sexual pursuits his language becomes increasingly fervent and forceful. In stanza 7 the lines "I'll tell of Whores attacked, their Lords at home;/ Bawds' Quarters beaten up, and Fortress won; Windows demolished, Watches overcome;/ And handsome ills, by my contrivance done." (33-36) exemplify the accelerated tempo and abrasive word choice that differentiate the debauchee's passionate discourse from earlier lines in the poem.
The extent to which the voice of the speaker changes over the course of the poem, especially when one considers the final stanza in which the speaker regresses back towards a more tempered, "Statesmanlike" (45) writing style, can be viewed as a reflection of the sexual response cycle within the physical composition of the actual poem. The speaker moves from a state of very low emotional stimulation, into the maturing cycle that makes up the body of the poem, until his level of excitation reaches its apex. The climax of the cycle very appropriately occurs in sync with the Debauchee's most disputatious, obscure sexual encounter. Following the Debauchee's implorations for the rape of a woman in stanza 9, he offer's the account of his ménage tua that may be viewed from multiple angles. The homoerotic, pedophilic, or just outlandishly perverse sexual relation is depicted in the lines, "When each the well-looked Link-boy strove t' enjoy,/ And the best Kiss was the deciding Lot/ Whether the Boy fucked you, or I the Boy." (38-40) While the actions and desires of the Debauchee are never fully clarified for the reader, there is no need for additional information to impart the reader with the necessary level of discomfort.
The cycle of sexual release projects itself in all areas and interactions of Rochester's poem, ultimately allowing for the poem itself to become a form of intercourse. The violent linguistic transformation appears as a stylistic reenactment of the speaker's sexuality, as well as the basis for the reader to speaker relationship. In this light, the ability for the piece of writing to effects its readers through violent imposition and by forcing the reader to move beyond their comfort zone becomes the true attempt to ameliorate the speakers sexual failure. While the Debauchee's plan to avoid the emotional toll of sexual impotence immediately becomes understood by the reader to be destined for failure, the poet is able to resurrect his perturbing, socially defiant lifestyle through his writing. As discussed in class, Rochester's violent nature is not grounded in hostility towards the world, but is instead his way of legitimizing his presence in the society. The speaker in the poem achieves this same legitimization, which was lost momentarily with the loss of his sexual ability, through the upheaval he instigates as a writer.