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Chaucers social commentary grows from so-called intrusionThe relationship Geoffrey Chaucer establishes between outsiders and insiders in The Canterbury Tales provides the primary fuel for the poetrys social commentary Both tales and moments within tales describing instances of intrusion work to create a sense of proper order disturbed in the imaginary structured universes presented by the pilgrims The perturbances conflicts born of these examples of intrusion into the inner circle bear the responsibility for most of the ironic-comedic role reversal on which the Tales thrive From the knights rape of a maiden in the Wife of Baths fantastic tale to Absolons jamming of a hot iron into Nicholas rectum in the Millers tale examples of such invasion and inversion represent the foundations of most of the tales plotsChaucer exposes his fundamental device in the opening stanza of the General Prologue The first five lines of the poetry address only major natural forcesAprill with his shoures soote 1 and Zephiruswith his sweete breeth 5 Life forms first grain and then birds grow organically from these bricks of the earth The poet creates a chain of existence molded into a comfortable hirearchy that culminates in smale foweles maken melodye 9 after the mountain of nature from which they were born jabs them into actionMan drops onto this finely constructed reality from an unrelated angle The poet explains that Men like birds find Springs call irresistable and Thanne longento goon on pilgrimages 12 However people do not arise from the same flow of the narrative Rather they relate to it by feeling like the birds Consequently the appearance of Man in this first stanza presents The Canterbury Tales first example of intrusion and role-reversalBut the instance in which Man descends upon this happy structure could result from clumsy poetry Perhaps the description tries to flow from the physics of the earth to the rise of Man and call for an evolutionary analysis of existence Likely it does not First
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