What is the main theme of the poem "Clown's Wife" by Johnson Agard?

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"The Clown's Wife" is a poem that examines the theme of appearance versus reality. This is a very common theme in literature. It's the idea that things are not really how they appear. The clown goes to work, where he is "a king on a throne." This image indicates that he is very good at what he does. As a clown, he dresses in a costume and paints his face in a way that brings smiles and laughter to people. Then he spends his days as a comic performer entertaining audiences with jokes, physical humor, and tricks. However, the reality for the clown in the poem is that he is depressed. He can barely get through the doors of his home before he is moaning and appears as though he has "the world on his shoulders." The clown is living a dual life; audiences would think he lives very happily, as he is full of smiles and life while he is onstage, but his happiness is a pretense. The clown's wife is the only one who knows the sad truth, and ironically, she spends her time clowning around trying to cheer him up.

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The main theme of the poem "Clown's Wife" by Johnson Agard is that appearances are not always what they seem.

In this six stanza poem, the reader is privy to the wife’s thoughts about the two personalities her husband presents, depending on whether he is performing his clown act, or if he is at home. When he is dressed and performing, she says, “Up there he’s a king on a throne, but at home you should hear him moan.”

As he performs, he puts up a façade for the audience in order to entertain them. When he arrives at home there is a role reversal between husband and wife. In his home, he bemoans their circumstances while the wife attempts to provide him with cheer and to lighten his load. She uses all of the clown’s tools such as juggling and card tricks in order to lift his mood. Her actions are metaphors for the many things wives do to provide a steady home life.  

Although he resists speaking about what is bothering him, she feels it is her duty to provide a diversion by entertaining him.  

And, in his own way, he appreciates her efforts with his quiet words, as stated in the last line of the poem.

Just sits there saying almost to himself, “O life, ah life, what would I do without this clown of a wife?”

When performing for his audience he is majestic; in his home life he is forlorn.

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