The King in Yellow


1. The King in Yellow is a series of loosely related short stories. Half of the stories contain a mystery involving a book called The King in Yellow that caused one to go insane if one read it. The main character would receive a "yellow sign" which would cause the death of that character and signal the end of the story. The latter half of the stories involved some sort of romance between an artist and a model. The first half were creepy and eerie and the last half were more lighthearted and frivolous.

Character Development

The Mask

Alec changes from being disappointed yet content in the beginning of the story to being depressed after Genevieve and Boris die. “When at last he made me understand that they were both dead, I fell into a wild rage that tore all my little convalescent strength to atoms. I raved and cursed myself into a relapse, from which I crawled froth some weeks afterwards a boy of twenty-one who believed that his youth was gone forever. I seemed to be past the capability of further suffering…” This quote shows how hard Alec took both of Boris’s and Genevieve’s deaths. He would spend the next year or so traveling to try and get his head right but never really would. He was happy and now he is depressed and lost. Alec never really makes it out of this lost stage as far as the reader is allowed to see.

The Demoiselle D’YS:

In the beginning of the story, the narrator, Phillip, is very sure of himself and his outdoor abilities. An old friend named Goulven warns him that the area is not a good place for a stranger and that he had better take a guide to which he replies, “I shall not lose myself.” So of course, he ends up getting lost and having to depend on a lady whom he happens to come across in the woods to get him to safety. He knows nothing about this place or this girl. He has no idea what he’s getting into. However, soon he learns that this land is old and seemingly enchanted. His character is forced to be okay with taking shelter at a lady’s house and accepting help from her. Soon, the two of them fall in love and this outdoorsman is fooled and bitten by a snake. “Then again something struck my ankle, and a sharp pain shot through me. I looked into the sweet face of Jeanne d’Ys and kissed her, and with all my strength lifted her in my arms and flung her away from me. Then, bending, I tore the viper from my ankle and set my heel upon its head. I remember feeling weak and numb- I remember falling to the ground.” After this the reader can see another change in his character. He becomes curious as to why Jeanne is not around and how her tombstone is there with the still- warm glove of hers. He is once again back into reality.

The Prophet’s Paradise:

The Prophet’s Paradise is a series of lessons to be learned by a young man whose name is never mentioned. The reader is able to see that throughout the whole story the young man does not listen to those wiser than he. He is waiting for a girl that he shall know and an unnamed character tells him to go after a girl on the street who is presumably humming a tune that the young man knows but he does not and loses her. Throughout the series of lessons, he does not listen. In the middle there is an encounter with destiny. “I came to the bridge which few may pass. “Pass!” cried the keeper, but I laughed, saying, “There is time”; and he smiled and shut the gates. To the bridge which few may pass came young and old. All were refused. Idly I stood and counted them, until, wearied of their noise and lamentations, I came again to the bridge which few may pass. Those in the trong about the gates shrieked out: “He comes too late!” But I laughed, saying, “There is time.” “Pass!” cried the keeper as I entered; then smiled and shut the gates.” Here we see that he is beginning to learn not to take things for granted like he had been doing previously. He continues to make progress until the very last lesson in which he should not have listened after all. In the last lesson, he is rejected by his love. “’If it is true that you love,’ said Love, ‘Then wait no longer. Give her these jewels, which would dishonor her and so dishonor you in loving one dishonored. If it is true that you love, ‘ said Love, ‘then wait no longer.’ I took the jewels and went to her, but she trod upon them, sobbing, ‘Teach me to wait- I love you!’ ‘Then wait, if it is true,’ said Love. Here we see the progression from a young man who is unwilling to go after the one he loves to a man who is willing to dishonor himself to prove that he loves.

“Trust your instincts.”

The first half of the stories in The King in Yellow seemed to have a recurring theme of “trust your instincts.” Had Phillip used a guide, (p 119), Alec insisted that they didn’t use the substance that was turning things into stone, or Tessie listened to Mr. Scott (p 1110), they would not have ended up in the terrible situations that they did.

“Be yourself and others will accept you for who you are.”

The second half of the stories are mostly about artists and their love adventures. It is true that in them, the main character is usually well liked. Hastings, an American studying art in France, is well liked by his peers and the women of the city. (p 234). Then Selby is accepted by one of the most difficult people to get to know by the end of the story, “Rue Buree.” (p 300). All of the artists were longing for acceptance and belonging and the main characters of the stories were able to just be themselves and in the long run were ultimately accepted by those whom they wanted to be accepted by.

Victorian Era

The King in Yellow is classified as Victorian. It has classic characteristics of the Victorian era since it was written in 1895, America. The novel embodies characteristics such as realism and everyday life. The stories often include idealism along with pessimism which is categorized into Victorian. The elements of the stories are really ordinarily idealistic. The author writes about artists going to France to study art and end up being accepted by their peers and female of interest. Even some of the creepier stories can be argued to be Victorian because they embody pessimism at its finest. This is exemplified especially in the story “The Yellow Sign” in which Mr. Scott fears the worst of the worm-like man in the churchyard.



by Lewis Carroll

"When midnight mists are creeping,
And all the land is sleeping,
Around me tread the mighty dead,
And slowly pass away.

Lo, warriors, saints, and sages,
From out the vanished ages,
With solemn pace and reverend face
Appear and pass away.

The blaze of noonday splendour,
The twilight soft and tender,
May charm the eye: yet they shall die,
Shall die and pass away.

But here, in Dreamland’s centre,
No spoiler’s hand may enter,
These visions fair, this radiance rare,
Shall never pass away.

I see the shadows falling,
The forms of old recalling;
Around me tread the mighty dead,
And slowly pass away."

This poem exhibits the theme from above "Trust your instincts." This is because the poem is about people around you always passing away. You must know who is dead and who is only in "Dreamland." It includes characteristics such as pessimism and realism.  


This painting looks like something that the artists in the stories would have been painting such as Mr. Scott, Mr. Hastings, or Selby. The men in the books mostly painted women models. The Victorian age is focused on everyday, real life and this picture exemplifies that .

Personal Interpretation

I cannot connect the stories together. They have nothing to do with each other. I would have liked very much for the author to have tied them all together somehow like I thought was going to happen in the beginning. It really does not help that there is virtually no useful information on this book on the internet. I would have preferred to never have read this book because I am very frustrated with it. The stories were super creepy at first and have given me a few bad dreams and the second half of the stories were relatively pointless. I did not gain anything from reading this book and I have some very strong feels about it.

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