Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Play Analysis: The King in Yellow (1889 or 1895) by Author Unknown

Oh boy! I finally found a copy of this play! I seriously cannot even believe it! The King in Yellow is an incredibly rare play to find, mostly because it is widely banned in every civilized country in the entire world. The author is unknown, although there are many rumors that he committed suicide after writing this play in a fevered sleep. That's quite the accomplishment if true. Uh... not the suicide, but the writing it while asleep.

I've heard some eerie whispers of what is within this play, but looking online I'v found no real information about it, only very vague hints as to what the play has to offer. Most sources seem to claim that the readers of the play will go mad or have a "dark fate," but since I have no idea what a "dark fate" means and am already pretty clearly a little unhinged, I think I'll take my chances with reading this forbidden play. Why the heck not?

The language that the play uses is sometimes above my head, making no sense at times despite having a fairly obvious plot. It seems to revolve around the characters of Cassilda, Camilla, and the King in Yellow, all of which have very interesting stories to them. Carcosa is often alluded to, as either the setting of the story or some mysterious place that the protagonists would try to find. The structure of the play is very odd, often feeling disjointed with a darkness underneath it all that speaks of the vast amount of unknown qualities of Carcosa, the Lake of Hali, Aldebaran, and the insanity of Demhe. As I read through the first act I found myself enjoying the narrative. It was interesting, speaking of some other world not associated with our own, either a world of dreams and nightmares or a world so far removed and alien from anything we know that we cannot even wrap our insignificant brains around its intrigues.

The King in Yellow himself, the possible avatar of Hastur, is a terrifying figure, one who leaders of men have bowed to and and grown mad from. He is an infection, one from which there is no cure. He infects the powerful and the weak, draining them of themselves and replacing them inch-by-inch with the King himself. The mask is how he does it with the Yellow Sign. It is his calling card, with his smiling face and perfect robes, he stares across the vast distance at the black suns in the skies and can see long distances without ever seeing at all. His eyes no longer matter and his shadow is longer than the world.

The Stranger is perhaps the most frightening part of the first act, his face being the mask he wears. He is taken over by the King without a struggle or a fight. His mind is lost as his mask takes over everything he once was until there is nothing left but a statue covered in thin white ash. I needed to stop after the first act for a while. My brain was rushing forward with new ideas and thoughts. This world seemed so real, and the King felt so close. I almost wondered if I drew that Yellow Sign, would he find me? Could I find relief in his power? I shook my head of those thoughts. It was better not to dwell on things of that nature. I was... I AM doing a review of this play, not trying to lose my mind in the universe and setting of it. There is no reality to this fiction, no men or gods on other worlds waiting to take minds over. Just a story.

I had to keep telling myself that.

The second act starts off with a full description of Him Who Is Not to be Named. I shouldn't have even written his name earlier in this article, but there is no going back now. Only forward as forward can be. The description is incredible and frightening. The emotions I feel as I write this have almost drawn me into a huddled mass upon my floor. I wonder who could have seen this figure, who could have written the descriptions.

I feel like he's watching me now, turning his never-eyes towards me, his dangling robes flowing in some unknown breeze. The King watches them closely, never averting his eyes, speaking as if they are already masked, as if in Carcosa there is no escape at all. They bathe in the Lake of Hali. Why would they bathe in the fires, touch the yellow water that all sickness is derived from? Why would they stare at the black suns, the black stars in the black sky? Why would they trust the King with teeth like razors, eyes that never were, arms and legs that seemed to never end, and a laugh that would make the skin crawl off of flesh? Why would they take the Stranger's mask to the King, hand it to him, and revel for a fortnight? I'll never get the images of debauchery out of my head. Why would Camilla and Cassilda have done those things to the servants of the King? Why would they not realize how wrong it was? Are they sick? Did the water warp their minds? Why does Cassilda put on the mask and... and...

I need a moment. I need to stop reading, stop reviewing this. Someone is watching me, over my shoulder. I look but nobody is there, but I know he's there, watching me, waiting until I find the mask too... until my courage wanes and I find myself absentmindedly drawing his sign, the sign from which there is no return. They think they know what it is, but the flesh is never sincerely correct. He Who Has Touched the Star Themselves does not know the meaning of being summoned. He takes what he must. His gauges in my floorboards, his hands above me, his long spindly fingers crawling down my back. I want to turn around and see his face... see his face a single time, but I know I mustn't. There isn't much time...

Not anymore.

I need to warn those not to read this. It's not right. Not correct at all! Do no read what your mind cannot comprehend. Burn the plays. Burn the books. Don't ever think of reading this. He is coming far too soon and we're not ready. But with all who view his play he comes closer. He'll never leave. He watches without eyes, touches without  skin, knows more... than the entire world. He's crawling in my mind right now, and all I can do is fight... and not remember what I read. But how can I forget... the unimaginable?

They say they saw the end of the world, but it wasn't the end, it was the beginning of his reign. The King in Yellow is coming. All praise his name.


  1. Any objection if I use this blog post in my Call of Cthulhu game? Think it could be very useful for my players to see ;)