Oh Lawd, Lawd! Oh Lawd, Lawd! [Suddenly...

The Emperor Jones

Brutus Jones

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Oh Lawd, Lawd! Oh Lawd, Lawd! [Suddenly he throws himself on his knees and raises his clasped hands to the sky−in a voice of agonized pleading.] Lawd Jesus, heah my prayer! I'se a po' sinner, a po' sinner! I knows I done wrong, I knows it! When I cotches Jeff cheatin' wid loaded dice my anger overcomes me and I kills him dead! Lawd, I done wrong! When dat guard hits me wid de whip, my anger overcomes me, and I kills him dead. Lawd, I done wrong! And down heah whar dese fool bush niggers raised me up to the seat o’ de mighty, I steals all I could grab. Lawd, I done wrong! I knows it! I'se sorry! Forgive me, Lawd! Forgive dis po' sinner! [Then beseeching terrified.] And keep dem away, Lawd! Keep dem away from me! And stop dat drum soundin' in my ears! Dat begin to sound ha'nted, too. [He gets to his feet, evidently slightly reassured by his prayer−with attempted confidence.] De Lawd'll preserve me from dem ha'nts* after dis. [Sits down on the stump again.] I ain't skeered o’ real men. Let dem come. But dem odders...[He shudders then looks down at his feet, working his toes inside the shoes−with a groan.] Oh, my po' feet! Dem shoes ain't no use no more 'ceptin' to hurt. I'se better off widout dem. [He unlaces them and pulls them off−holds the wrecks of the shoes in his hands and regards them mournfully.] You was real, A−one patin' leather, too. Look at you now. Emperor, you'se gittin' mighty low!

[*haunts]

O’Neill, Eugene. “The Emperor Jones”, Three Great Plays: The Emperor Jones, Anna Christie, and The Hairy Ape, Dover Publications Inc., 2005, pp.25-6.

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