by Eugene O’Neill
Information about the play:
The Emperor Jones was written in 1920 and staged at the same year in New York City. The production was very successful and helped make O’Neill’s reputation. O’Neill is affected by a real story which tells about the president of Haiti, Guillaume Sam, who boasts that he would be never killed by a lead bullet but a silver one. As O’Neill is impressed by this story, at first he makes the name of the play as The Silver Bullet but later he changes its name to “The Emperor Jones”. He reads a book about the religious feasts in Congo and he learns the use of the drum at festivals; that’s how he decides to reflect the agitated mind of Brutus Jones with the drum beats. He introduces a new style to the American theater “Expressionism”. What is in Jones ' head, expressionism allows us to see him through.
Plot is the arrangement of events which are linked by cause and effect creates rise to the conflict. Simplicity of the plot is essential because the playwright has limited time to build up plot.
This play has a classical simplicity. The action begins on the afternoon and it ends by the dawn of the next day. Audience learn Jones’ past through the dialogue between Jones and Smithers in the palace. Jones’ murders, committed in the past and inner world’s characters are presented on the stage as his hallucinations. There is only one action; straightforward without any sub-plots.
Brutus Jones is a former Pullman porter in a railroad company in New York City. He kills a black man in a card game and then he kills a prison guard while he escapes from the jail. After his escape from the jail, he comes to an island, in West Indies. In this island, he declares himself as an emperor by manipulating the native settlers’ superstitions: He maintains that he cannot be killed by any kind of weapon but silver bullet. During 2 years governing period, he makes a fortune by exploiting the
Cited: Berlin, Normand. O 'Neill 's Shakespeare. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1993. 20-84. Print. Dubost, Thierry. Struggle, Defeat or Rebirth. North Carolina: Mc Farland Company, 1997. 111-163. Print. Estrin, Mark W., ed. Conversations with Eugene O 'neill. 3rd ed. Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 1990. 26-94. Print. Houchin, John H., ed. The Critical Response to Eugene O 'Neill. 2nd ed. London: Greenwood Press, 1993. 44-52. Print. Griffth, Kelley. Writing Essays about Literature. 7th ed. Boston: Thomson Corporation, 2006. 77-106. Print.