The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Hanson, Thomas B. "Chaucer's Physician as Storyteller and Moralizer." 7 (1972): 132-39.
The Physician's Tale demonstrates that Chaucer's description of him in the General Prologue is accurate: the Physician knows little about the Bible. In the tale, plot and moralization compete for readers' attention. The Physician opens his tale by showing Virginia to be a paragon of virtue. The Physician continues, adding a great deal of Christian material to his source. The epilogue, however, passes over Virginia, making her more a victim of extremes than a martyr. By suggesting that the spirit of the law is more to be followed than the letter, the Physician's Tale joins the Franklin's Tale and the Pardoner's Tale.
Hirsh, John C. "Modern Times: The Discourse of the Physician's Tale." 27 (1993): 387-95.
The structure of the Physician's Tale undermines "any necessity unconnected to social standing" (388). The Physician uses Christian discourse at the beginning of his tale in such a way that he will eventually be able to undermine it. In some subtle ways, the Physician's Tale reconstructs the Second Nun's Tale, and like the Manciple's Tale, it reconstructs the moral pattern with which it had been working. The Physician's Tale forces a reexamination of the relationship between real and ideal.
Hoffman, Richard L. "Jephthah's Daughter and Chaucer's Virginia." 2 (1967): 20-31.
By paying attention to the small amount of biblical study the Physician has performed as well as the brief reference to Jephthah in his tale, one can say that the Physician's Tale was intended to be part of the Canterbury Tales, that it should follow the Franklin's Tale, that Chaucer made changes to make it more "artistic," and that the line describing the Physician's Bible study is not out of place. The reference to Jephthah's daughter not only demonstrates that the Physician is primarily concerned about the body as opposed to the soul, but it also relates Virginia to Dorigen by giving her an example of conduct which seems as poorly related to her situation as Dorigen's exempla are to hers.
Pelen, Marc M. "Murder and Immortality in Fragment VI (C) of the Canterbury Tales: Chaucer's Transformation of Theme and Image from the Roman de la Rose." 29 (1994): 1-25.
The Pardoner's Tale and the Physician's Tale oppose each other, but together they present "refraction of a more urgent poetic truth" (4). Ultimately the argument of both tales is the grace of God that is beyond the circumscription of words. In both tales, Chaucer responds to earlier legends, discussing murder and immorality. Such considerations derive from Chaucer's veneration of themes and images in the Roman de la Rose. The Physician's Tale also reacts to portions of the Roman de la Rose, and borrows a number of images from it. In the Roman de la Rose, readers recognize the contrasting voices of Genius, Reason, and Nature, just as they identify the opposing voices of the Physician and the Pardoner. In both works the full meaning of the poetry is outside of the dialogue between characters and beyond that between the writer and his audience.
Robertson, D. W., Jr. "The Physician's Comic Tale." 23 (1988): 129-39.
Chaucer carefully alters his sources to create comedy, but these changes also incorporate legal abuses that tell more about the Physician. By having Virginius go home and talk to Virginia before decapitating her, the Physician draws attention to a "love more necessary than justice" (133). The criminal activity the Physician describes deals with maintenance laws and "champarty," which reveals him to be a kind of false physician, and the Host's response to him indicates the Host's confusion with regard to the Physician's nature.
Spencer, William. "Are Chaucer's Pilgrims Keyed to the Zodiac?" 4 (1970): 147-70.
The sequence of the pilgrims in the General Prologue suggests that they are keyed to the zodiac. Readers can view each pilgrim in terms of the influence of the planets and the stars. Among the pilgrims whom a knowledge of the medieval science of the zodiac helps to illuminate are the Knight, the Squire, the Yeoman, the Prioress, the Monk, the Friar, the Merchant, the Clerk, the Man of Law, the Franklin, the Cook, the Shipman, the Physician, the Wife of Bath, the Parson, the Miller, the Manciple, the Reeve, the Summoner, and the Pardoner.