The Emperor Jones

The Emperor Jones Metaphors and Similes

"His bald head, perched on a long neck with an enormous Adam's apple, looks like an egg" (Simile)

This is Eugene O'Neill's first description of the pasty Smithers. He says that his head resembles an egg, which is an instruction to both the person casting the play as well as the person outfitting the actors. He evokes a rather unflattering image for Smithers.

"She's my rabbit's foot" (Metaphor)

When he shows Smithers his silver bullet, Jones tells his crooked right-hand-man that he can never touch the bullet, as it is his "rabbit's foot." In this metaphor, Jones suggests that the silver bullet is a kind of good-luck charm.

"The bloody ship is sinkin' an' the bleedin' rats 'has slung their 'ooks" (Metaphor)

When Jones rings the dinner bell to call his servants, no one comes, and Smithers uses this metaphor to describe the fact that Jones has lost control of his servants and his subjects. He suggests that the empire is like a sinking ship, and the lowest ranking members of the empire—whom he calls "rats"—have fled.

"Shaking himself like a wet dog to get rid of these depressing thoughts" (Simile)

When he is at the edge of the forest in Scene 2, Jones gets anxious that he will be apprehended soon and begins "shaking himself like a wet dog to get rid of these depressing thoughts." This simile shows that Jones is anxious about what is going to happen to him and needs to physically shake himself in order to get rid of some of his dread.

"Stupid as 'ogs, thl' lot of' em!" (Simile)

This is part of the final line of the play, a racist simile uttered by Smithers. He refers to all black men as "stupid as hogs," suggesting that he thinks that Jones and the islanders are all intellectually inferior.