The Physician's Tale Notes from The Canterbury Tales

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(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
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The Canterbury Tales The Physician's Tale

Titus Livius talks about a knight called Virginius, who had many riches, friends, and honor, and also a single child by his wife. This daughter was a perfect creation, almost molded from the hands of Pygmalion. She was fourteen years old, with long golden hair, white skin, and a blessed virtue of chastity. She would often feign illness in order to get out of certain people's company. With all this idleness and boredom in her life, she became curious, causing Virginius to keep an extra special eye on her so that she would remain as virtuous as she was thought.

She read books every day and went to church with her mother. Meanwhile, stories of her virtue and beauty spread through the countryside. A young justice, the Governer of the town, saw the young maid and fell in love with her. "Anon his herte chaunged and his mood, / So was he caught with beautee of this mayde, / And to hymself ful pryvely he sayde, / This mayde shal be myn, for any man." Physician's Tale, l.126-129. He knew that she would never dissent into sin with him, so he sent for a man from town to conspire a plan to deflower the young maiden without getting caught. A man named Claudius, under false pretenses of a judgeship, brings a complaint against Virginius, claiming that he has possession of his young female slave (truly his daughter). The judge gives custody to the churl, Claudius, and takes the young maiden from her father, Virginius. A bitter and saddened Virginius tells his daughter Virginia that he must kill her to end both of their pain. He cannot allow her virtue to be disgraced. She pleads to him for her life, until she faints. Upon awakening she realizes that she must die for him, and Virginius swiftly cuts off her head, as to avoid pain, and brings it to the judge. Judge Appius decrees that Virginius be hanged for the deed; yet the townspeople cry for his life, and both Appius and Claudius are thrown in prison, wherein Appius slew himself. Claudius was to be hanged until Virginius pardoned him of his ill doings into exile.

Topic Tracking: Sexuality 8

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