Exploring The Evils of Imperialism and Kleptocracy in O’neill’s The Emperor Jones: A Critical Study (Published)
O’Neill’s 1920 tragedy “The Emperor Jones” criticizes the capitalist-imperialist American society and its occupation and exploitation of other countries. In the play, O’Neill condemns the white people’s dominance and their abuse of power over the non-white people for capitalist and materialistic interests. The play stages the rise and fall of Brutus Jones, an African-American ex-Pullman porter and fugitive convict, who becomes emperor and possessor of great wealth on a small Caribbean island through his knowledge of deception and corruption that he acquires during his ten years of services to the white people in the United States. Jones exercises absolute power over the natives, turns into a powerful dictator, takes on kleptocratic practices and financially exploits and squeezes the ignorant natives dry. The play depicts what happens when a person like Jones internalizes the dominant system of power and then proceeds to continue it in his own territory once he gets the opportunity to do so. The study attempts to explore the evil aspects of imperialism and kleptocracy and their repercussions on the innocent natives of the West Indian island. It also investigates O’Neill’s stance on the white people’s dominance, their hypocrisy and exploitation of the non-white populace around the world.