Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 241
Research the history of Expressionism in both painting and theatre in the early-twentieth century and discuss how The Emperor Jones illustrates expressionistic subject matter and technique.
Research the lives of Charles Gilpin (1878- 1930) and Paul Robeson (1898-1976), the black actors who portrayed Brutus Jones in the original stage (1920) and film (1933) versions of The Emperor Jones. Discuss the ways in which their skin color had an effect on their personal and professional lives.
Research the history of how African Americans were portrayed in drama and film during the first thirty years of the twentieth century. Compare these portrayals with the one O’Neill creates in The Emperor Jones.
Research the physiology and psychology of hallucinations. What is happening in the human brain when people ‘‘see’’ and experience phenomena that are not actually present? Compare this information with what you see happening to Brutus Jones in The Emperor Jones.
Research several biographies of Eugene O’Neill to see how his father, James O’Neill, had his promising acting career ‘‘ruined’’ by his extraordinary success in the stageplay, The Count of Monte Cristo. Then research in biographies (and the autobiography) of twentieth-century actor, Basil Rathbone, who had a similar experience with his success in the Sherlock Holmes film series. Finally, read O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night and discuss how ‘‘success’’ is not always what it seems to be, a theme that can be applied as well to The Emperor Jones.
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