Subject The Physician's Tale
Posted by Jennifer Lee
Posted on Fri Jun 21 23:01:36 2002
From IP  

Jennifer Lee
Chaucer probably clarifies that point in his depiction of the Physician's character when he has him speak directly to fathers and mothers in closing the digression. He says that if they exhibit "necligence in chastisynge" to the extent that their children perish ("perisse"), the parents themselves "shul it deere abeye". The one thing Virginius can never be faulted for is showing any reluctance to chastise Virginia, since he cuts off her head simply because she has inspired a corrupt judge to lust after her excessive physical beauty, if Harry Bailly is to be taken seriously, or because of her excessive virtue, if the Physician has read his own sentence correctly. One can argue that both qualities are the de facto causes of her murder. The point to be taken here, whatever the cause might be for Virginia's death, is that the Physician's Tale severely undercuts and calls into question the validity of the idea that Christian law should be read in such a way as to force women especially, and everyone else in general, to become thralls to their bodies and penance "under mannes governance." That is what happens to Virginia and no one has ever argued that she deserves the fate she receives.

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