The Canterbury Tales

Body and Soul: The Celestial Metaphor of Chaucer's Physicians Tale

While critics and common readers alike have panned Chaucer's Physician's Tale as one of the more disconnected and weakly written of all the Canterbury Tales, recent thought, and certainly more abstract views, have worked ignorant of each other to provide us with a new perspective on what may be Chaucer's most complex and metaphysical of stories. This tale is unlike Chaucer's others not merely because it can be read from a variety of different perspectives (what tale can't be?), but rather its vagueness, its lack of characterization, and its challenging and sometimes contradictory themes force the reader to view it from many different angles in order to gain a clear perspective. Thomas L. Kinney writes in Literature and Psychology that this tale is unsatisfying and "ineffective" due to its lack of clarity and overall confusion. He also claims that the tale muddles the reader's values and perceptions (Kinney 79). In her Master's Thesis titled "No Grace, No Remedye": The Moral of the Physician's Tale, Joanna Priest Simmers cites Donald Howard (The Idea of the Canterbury Tales) as claiming that "The Physician, in the manner of his profession, ends giving advice which sounds a...

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