The Emperor Jones

The Emperor Jones Irony

Bullet Immune (Dramatic Irony)

Former porter and convict Brutus Jones rises to become emperor by exploiting the superstitions of his subjects. After he narrowly escapes the shot of a bullet by chance, he tells the people over whom he rules that he is immune to lead bullets, and can only be killed by a silver bullet. While we know that this is the result of an accident, Brutus takes advantage of the islanders' gullibility.

All Alone in a Crowded Forest (Situational Irony)

Smithers advises Brutus Jones not to travel through the forest in order to escape from the revolutionaries on the island. Jones insists that he will be safe and manage to make his way to the shore to get away by boat, but as he gets further and further into the forest, he descends into madness, suffering from hallucinations that cause him to fire his gun at several inopportune moments, thereby alerting his pursuers to his whereabouts. Ironically enough, the path that Jones thinks will be the least conspicuous turns out to be a psychic fever dream that leads him to reveal himself and invite his own death.

The Entrance is the Exit (Situational Irony)

The final pathetic irony in the tragic life of Brutus Jones is that his attempt to flee to safety and riches by taking the shortcut through the forest ends up bringing him right back to where he started. Ultimately, the natives kill him at the exact same spot where he first entered the jungle, as his hallucinations have led him astray, rather than towards an escape.

Silver Bullets (Situational Irony)

At the end of the play, Jones gets killed by a silver bullet. He believed that he was the only one who had a silver bullet, and that this would save him from the wrath of his subjects. However, as Lem reveals in the final scene of the play, the revolutionaries have made silver bullets for the express purpose of killing the emperor. Jones' lie about being immune to all bullet wounds except those of a silver bullet is ironically realized when he gets killed by a number of silver bullets. He thought this lie would protect him from harm, but it ends up killing him anyway.