The Canterbury Tales


The Physician's Tale

The Physician’s tale is frequently placed after the Franklin’s tale, though there is not sufficient introductory material to ensure that that is its appropriate position in the story. The Physician’s tale focuses on the plight of Virginia. Virginia is the young and beautiful daughter of a noble knight named Virginius. A corrupt judge named Appius begins to lust after Virginia and begins to scheme about how he might have her. He engages the services of a man named Claudius to help him get Virginia from Virginius. Claudius goes before Judge Appius and accuses Virginius of having stolen a servant girl of his and pretending that she is his daughter. Appius orders that Virginia be brought to court. Virginius goes to get his daughter, aware that if he takes her to court, she will be taken by Claudius. Virginius gives Virginia the option of going with him and being shamed or dying. Virginia chooses death, and Virginius cuts off her head. Virginius then returns to court and hands Appius Virginia’s head. The judge orders that Virginius be hung for murdering Virginia, but the crowd has realized that Appius and Claudius have been conspiring against Virginius. They imprison Appius, who kills himself once he is in prison. The crowd plans to hang Claudius, but Virginius intervenes, and Claudius is exiled instead of killed.

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Essays About The Canterbury Tales