Lady or the Tiger?

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Pamphile, Stephen
Prof. Shaw
ENC1102 MWF
The Lady or the Tiger? By Frank R. Stockton
The story takes place in an ancient civilization ruled by a semi-barbaric king. The king established a justice system based on “chance”. People that were accused of crimes of great significance to the king, had to appear in an arena before subjects of the kingdom to determine their fate. They had to choose between opening one of two doors. One door contained a hungry and vicious tiger, ready to devour the subject. The other door contained a woman of beauty unparalleled in the kingdom, in which the person accused of the crime had to marry. The daughter of the king was having a secret affair with a man in the kingdom. Once the king found out, he sent the man to prison and appointed a day for him to appear for trial in the arena. The princess informed herself of which door contained the tiger and which door contained the beautiful woman. The story ends with the princess signaling to her lover which door to take, and leaves the reader with a cliffhanger, making him/her come up with his/her own conclusion of which door the princess had the man open. It is highly probable that the princess chose the door leading to the tiger.

One could stereotypically assume that since she is rich and powerful, she would possess a mindset in which she should always get whatever she wants. Even though neither door would lead to her lover actually becoming hers again, the door that led to the tiger would make sure the woman behind the other door won’t be able to have him. In other words, if she can’t have him, nobody can. The author describes her as having a soul that is “fervent and imperious”. She lacks modesty. The most significant point in reaching this conclusion however, is that the princess already knew which woman was behind the door. She once witnessed her lover and this woman conversing and exchanging glances of admiration. She resented the fact that this woman even looked at her man....
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