Brutus Jones, a former Pullman car porter wanted in the United States on two murder charges, has established himself as the self-proclaimed ruler of a West Indian island. Warned that his subjects are about to rebel, he flees to the jungle sick with fright where he is plagued by ghosts of the men he has murdered and haunted by visions of injustices done to his race. Powerful scenes, punctuated by beating tom-toms, suggest Jones's panic as he flees his angry countrymen and his own personal demons.
First produced in 1920, The Emperor Jones helped establish O'Neill's reputation as one of America's most important dramatists. Bold and expressionistic, the play was an instant success on the stage and has remained one of the staples of the dramatic repertoire. It is now available to a wide audience in this attractive, inexpensive Dover Thrift Edition.