THE PHYSICIAN’S TALE
She is the beautiful daughter of Virginius whose innocence attracts the evil intentions of Appius.
He is a wealth, courageous Knight who has a beautiful daughter.
He is a corrupt judge who is besotted with Virginia’s beauty.
He is Appius’ co-conspirator who will help in the kidnap of Virginia.
There was once a rich courageous Knight named Virginius who had a beautiful fourteen year-old daughter. Her beauty was matched by her kindness and modesty.
In the town was a judge named Appius who was obsessed with having this
He obtains the services of a criminal named Claudius in order to kidnap Virginia. Claudius accuses the Knight of having stolen a servant girl from his house and pretending that she was his daughter. Appius, the judge, rules against the Knight and takes the child as a Ward of Court. When Virginius returns home and tells his daughter what has happened she is distraught. The only course of action is for his daughter to accept death rather than face the shame of being at the mercy of Appius and Claudius.
The Knight cuts off his daughter’s head with his sword and holding it by the
hair takes it to the judge. The judge orders that the Knight be hanged for murder, but the people of the town intercede, being aroused to the judge’s treachery.
The judge is thrown into prison and the mob wish to hang Claudius for his evil work.
The Knight intercedes, suggesting he should be exiled, which was carried out.
The Physician finishes his tale with the moral that “the wages of sin is
death” and all should confess their sins.
Chaucer has taken this tale from Titus Livius, a Roman historian, but it has
been greatly embellished by Chaucer. This is because he has given more characterization to Virginius and his daughter, whereas the original story focused on the corrupt judge and his passion for the young girl.
The Physician certainly dramatizes the situation by having the father cut
off his daughter’s head for the sake of the honor of his family.
The Knight clearly does not wish to have the blood of Claudius on his hands as well as his daughter’s hence the suggestion that he be exiled rather than hanged.
The host was upset by the Physician’s tale, in particular the treacherous
behavior of the judge.
He turns to the Pardoner requesting that he tells a more agreeable story. The Pardoner, before commencing his tale, gives information to the Pilgrims concerning the methods he uses in preaching. He will use as his text “Radix malorum est cupidatis” which is “love of money is the root of all evil”. He carries with him a variety of relics which are available for sale to all, but in particular bad sinners. He encourages the Pilgrims to be unselfish and have only good intentions in order to stay clear of sin. He then confesses that he is a worldly man and likes money, rich food and fine living.