Camilla is one of the key characters from The King In Yellow, who is quoted by Robert W. Chambers in the original collection of stories. She is one of only three characters known for certain to be in the play.
The name may be derived from the vampire villainess of the contemporary Gothic novel Carmilla.
Appears in Act 1, Scene 2 of the play. She is known to be present for the last lines of the first act, as mentioned in The Repairer of Reputations: the character Hildred Castaigne "...remembered Camilla's agonised scream and the awful words echoing through the dim streets of Carcosa. They were the last lines of the first act". The cause of Camilla's scream is not clear but is probably to do with the horrifying revelation that The Stranger in the Pallid Mask, who has recently arrived at the Masquerade taking place in the scene, in fact wears – as Camilla whispers, terrified, to Cassilda - "no mask".
Interpretation of Camilla
In the texts of James Blish and Lin Carter Camilla is the daughter of Queen Cassilda, who must choose between her brothers Thale and Uoht which to marry, in order to continue the royal line. She is also the daughter of Cassilda in The King In Yellow by Thom Ryng. She has also been considered the sister of Cassilda.
In The Machine in Yellow, she is the wife of Uoht (whether they are brother and sister is not mentioned, although the characters named after them are), but is secretly in love with The Bearer of the Yellow Sign.
The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana says...
Under her own name, the Encyclopedia Cthulhiana only states: Character from 'The King in Yellow'.
Under the entry for the play, two alternatives are suggested. Either she is simply one of several claimants to the throne of Yhtill or she is one of the children of the ruling queen [Cassilda] of the city of Hastur, which has been at war with its neighbor Alar for countless years.
Camilla, Cassilda and Carcosa
It's worth noting, perhaps, that both Camilla and Cassilda, two characters created and defined through their quotes by Chambers, both have names that look as if they might be based upon the name Carcosa, almost as if it is as much part of them as they are of it.
Meaning of the Name
Camilla is an obscure name of Italian origin, although Kamilah is an Arabic word meaning 'Perfect'. It may derive from the feminine of camillus, a term for a youth serving as acolyte in the ritual of ancient Roman religion, which may ultimately be of Etruscan origin. The French form, Camille, may be both a masculine and feminine name, unlike elsewhere.
Although sometimes linked, the name is not related to the Camellia (which was named for George Joseph Kamel).
Camilla was the name of a character in the Aeneid and Roman mythology who was forced to flee her home with her father when she was but a young girl and spent her life living in the woods, dedicated to Diana, and fought against Aeneas. The Aeneid concerns, in part, love, murder, suicide, the fates of cities, and wars and animosity between them. The itinerant Aeneas (whom Virgil frequently describes with Dionysian imagery) travels to Carthage (Latin: Carthago) where his romance with the Queen has a tragic end that dooms two cities to war.
Camilla Beyond The Play
In The River of Night's Dreaming, one of the characters, a maid, is called Camilla, just as one is called Cassilda. These characters, whilst distinct from their counterparts in the play, do seem to echo those that are in the play. Might their actions hint at those unexplored in the terrible Second Act of the play? (Camilla, at one point, appears in vampiric guise, possibly implying a link to Carmilla.)
She features alongside Cassilda in the Yellow Dresses sequence of poems.
Camillas in other contexts
- Camille is a painting by Monet, also known as The Lady In The Green Dress.
- In the Prose Lancelot, Camille is the name of a sorceress in one Arthurian story, of Saxon ancestry, who fell in love with King Arthur and took him prisoner. Arthur was rescued by Lancelot and Camille killed herself.