Love and lust are two divergent terms that are sole catalysts to the most brutal of actions. When religion is coalesced into such a topic, a tale of desperation, macabre, and death are bound to meet the tale’s conclusion. A prime example is contained in the Physician’s Tale; which uses multiple characters to portray the characteristics of the tale’s narrator. The Physician is the most enthralling character because his personal life clashes with his tale through his relatability to his characters, his hunger for wealth, and the effects of religion on society and human morals.
The Physician, inadvertently, describes himself through his character, Appius. Appius, a lonely judge, has fallen in lust with Virginia, the purest gem of the town. His lust leads him to invite a churl to falsely accuse Virginius, Virginia’s father, of stealing his “servant.” As the tale commences, the reader learns that his accusation was false and that this ...view middle of the document...
The Physician’s actions are not so entirely different. The Physician uses his intelligence to cure patients and to feed their habits. His drug dealing is motivated by his greed for wealth and power. In the general prologue of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer states,” Gold stimulates the heart, or so we’re told. He therefore had a special love of gold.” (Chaucer, Line 453-454) This can be accredited to the fact that doctors did not obtain much support from society due to religious reasons.
Finally, Catholicism had a major impact on the Physician’s life and tale. For example, The Physician committed one of the deadly sins, greed, and Appius committed the sin of lust. As the tale ends, the quote, “Forsake sin or for sin you'll be forsaken,” is stated. (Chaucer, Line 286) This quote applies to sinners who do not repent and for doing so receive a great punishment. Appius, the Churl, and countless other men face execution by hanging because of their actions towards Virginius and his daughter. Virginius, who the Churl falsely accused of stealing his servant, receives his freedom yet his punishment is living the remainder of his days without Virginia by his side. The Physician, himself, faces religion and morals on a daily basis. His love for gold causes him to be greedy and in order to feed his greed he sells drugs illegally. While the Physician never received punishment in his lifetime, throughout the years, students and scholars have found a profound hate towards him and his actions, yet, this hate for a “super villain” only fuels the love each reader has for this beloved character.
In conclusion, Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is an amazing display of human frailty shown from the perspective of Chaucer and his characters. Throughout the Physician’s Tale, the reader finds that The Physician indirectly refers to himself through Appius and other despicable members of society. The Physician’s double life from ordinary doctor to sly drug-dealer creates an immense desire for more knowledge about him and his corrupted life. The Physician’s Tale portrays the effects of religion on daily life and how they symbiotically relate with the Physician’s personal life causing him to be the most intriguing character.