Appearance vs Reality in Clown’s Wife by Johnson Agard


This post consists of two answers given by two G.C.E. (O/L) students. These answers will be helpful for the readers to analyse the answers of students and these two students have brought forward some brilliant points to ponder. The credit should go for them and the comment section is open for you to comment on their work which will be a great support for them to improve their writings.


The poem Clown’s Wife by Johnson Agard shows appearance vs reality and suffering of the poor. Discuss this statement with the close reference to the poem.

Answer of Dinethya

The Clown’s Wife is a nice poem which is written by Johnson Agard. The speaker of this poem, the wife of a clown shows the changes of the clown after he returns home from the circus. Johnson Agard, the poet tries to convey the universal theme of appearance vs reality and also conveys the poverty and suffering of poor people.

To identify the differences between the appearance and realty, Agard uses a clown without getting a businessman as the subject. If a rich person has been used, the reader cannot understand the theme clearly. But when it comes to a clown, anyone knows that a life of a clown is full of joy and entertainment. However, the poet has changed that idea upside down. To show this change, poet brings out a clown’s wife in front of the readers because she is a reliable narrator to reveal about the real clown.

“On the stage, he’s a different person

Up there he’s a king on throne.”

The clown is a joyful character by his outfit and behaviours. He does things to make his spectators happy. However, he is not really happy. The clown tries to show that he is the happiest and most joyful person in the world, but it is not the truth. He hides his moaning and pressures behind the red nose and the painted face. The poet tries to convey his pseudo appearance.

“He walks pass through that door

without red nose and funny clothes

He seems to have the world on his shoulder.”

His pseudo appearance does not valid when he gets into the home. He moans at home. mainly, it might be because of money problems. He is totally different to the clown on the stage. His wife says he seems to have ‘the world on his shoulder.’ In the hose, clown’s wife turns herself into a clown. She juggles eggs, turns cart wheels, does the latest card tricks to make him happy. Even though, he makes other people laugh, he cannot be happy by those tricks. That is the reality which the poet highlighted throughout the poem.

Afterwards, she does many things to make the clown happy, however all become fruitless. The reason for his pressure may be he does not share anything with his reliable wife.

“But he doesn’t say how exactly how he feels

Doesn’t say what’s bothering him inside.”

The clown does not say what depresses him; he shows to the world that he has not got any problem. The clown does not even say what bothers him. In the society, he teaches to solve any problem using happiness and to spend the life happily. In contrary, he does nothing for himself.

Most in the world might think that clowns spend a luxurious and rich life. However, in reality it is the mere appearance not the bitter truth. In his life he seems to have full of financial problems. The suffering of the poor is one of the main things that is projected through the clown.

Summing up all the facts, the way the clown behaves in the society and the thinking of other people in the society, the poet Johnson Agard shows a real picture of appearance vs reality using the character of a clown.  


Answer of Sanuda Nethmina

The poem Clown’s Wife was written by Johnson Agard. He shows the real picture of appearance vs reality and he shows the suffering of poor people. Everyone knows a clown. In this poem a clown is described by a clown’s wife- about how she deals with her husband. The speaker of this poem is clown’s wife.

“Up there he is a king on a throne

at home you should hear him moan.”

This illustrates the difference between the private life and public life. According to the poem, she says, he is ‘a king’ on a throne on the stage. We can see the metaphor here. He acts as he is in full of authority, happiness and joy but he is not. He has to do it possibly because, it is his profession. He juggles balls, do card tricks and a lots of things that make the audience happy. He has to do those because, if he does not do so, he has to stay hungry. At home he moans about the difficulties he has - economic hardships and many more things. His wife says that he sits down and thinks for hours with a sad face. The people we see in public might show us a picture that they are happy but may be, they really do not. They act like they have no problems in their lives and their life is full of comfort and such things but they suffer in their private burdened life.

So, it is not practical to measure a person from his outlook. Sometimes they have more problems than us. Life is always full of problems. Either he is a doctor or an Engineer, that doesn’t matter, they all have problems. They may not be merely economic problems but they have many other.

But in this poem, clown may be suffering from economic problems and he might be moaning about his physical pain and nobody can see the mental pain of him, even to his wife. He does not give them to his wife because he does not want to make his wife unhappy.

May be the payment of the clown is not enough for him. May be the owners of the circus do not pay enough for his job but he cannot leave it because, maybe there are no more jobs for him. This shows us the suffering of the poor. His wife says he always thinks about life and says ‘oh life ah life.’ This is how the reality vs appearance difference of a man.

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