The whole purpose of freedom, says Esolen, is to make us men and women of virtue and this requires restraint and discipline. There are ample quotes from the great works of Western literature, including those by Dante, Shakespeare, Aristotle and Cicero.
In ten chapters, Esolen examines our superficial education, our contempt for humanity, our workaholic culture, our refusal to think clearly, the contemporary celebration of lust, our false understanding of tolerance, our endless celebration of progress, our flight from the family, our desire to give into the mob and our fear of solitude and contemplation.
The chapter on lust begins with an examination of Shakespeare's Measure For Measure. It is noted
that while Shakespeare was no hater of the flesh, he did have a high regard for the holiness of marriage. So in
King Lear, the Duke of Gloucester is ashamed of the illegitimacy of his son. The virtue of temperance as found
in Othello, All's Well That Ends Well, Macbeth and The Winter's Tale is then discussed. This is followed by a discussion
of chastity as found in Milton's Paradise Lost. For Milton, there is a difference between chastity and abstinence.
Esolen then compares the virtue of chastity as found in the great works of Western literature with something found
in Cosmopolitan Magazine where chastity is mocked as is manhood and the "child-making thing".