The Clown Punk Poem Analysis Essay

Sample question

In your exam you will be asked to compare a certain aspect of one poem with another. In order to do this, we need to get to know this poem a bit better by considering one of its main aspects.

What follows is a sample question which concentrates on one feature of the poem and an answer (not necessarily complete!) to the question.


How is the character presented in The Clown Punk?

  • Armitage uses strong images to create a visual picture of the character, comparing him to a .
  • Adjectives like , and all create a sense of a character who is much less than he could be.
  • The contrasting reactions of the narrator and children to the Clown Punk help to create a sense of his character: the children are afraid, but the narrator is dismissive of his .
  • The Clown Punk is presented as faintly ridiculous: Armitage uses the rhyme of to suggest this.
  • The tattoos go right through to the character's , and the use of surface-art vocabulary throughout the poem suggests that the tattoos are all there is to this man.

Back to Poetry: Character and voice index

How does Simon Armitage present the clown punk?

One way in which Armitage presents the clown is in the first line when he says, “Driving home through the shonky side of town”
The important word here is shonky. This is because the word shonky doesn’t make that area of town nice. It gives the impression of a run down area. So this then makes us think of the clown punk of being poor, subsequently giving us a picture of the clown punk being in old clothes, non shaven face and long hair. I think it is important that Armitage has decided to put this in his first line because this then gives us an image to think of during the poem

Another way is in the third line when Armitage says, “Like a basket of washing that got up
And walked,”
This line reinforces my first point because you imagine washing as being crumpled up and scruffy so you can see the clown punk in creased possibly dirty clothes. Also it gives us the idea that the clown punk has just picked up any old clothes and thrown them on.

I think the clown punk could be isolated and has no friends, because of when he says “like a basket of washing that got up” and also when he says “towing a dog on a rope” here this presents him being lonely. This also makes us feel sorry for him.

I think clown punk is a young man possibly 23-24 as when Armitage says “imagine him in thirty years time, with his deflated face and shrunken scalp” this gives us an idea of his age and his facial appearance of being quite young. I think Armitage would want him to be young because it shows he may have thought that being a punk is great but then as he grows older it is a bad choice.

Also this could say he could have sense of immaturity, and because we have this sense of immaturity that is backed up by the fact he has lots of tattoos. I say this because when you’re young you think tattoos are cool and you don’t think about the consequences in later life

He may be quite a horrible person because when it says “when he slathers...

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