Stockton"s "The Lady, or the Tiger?" is set in a kingdom ruled by a "semi-barbaric" king who is a fanciful and unpredictable man. The king has dreamt up a justice system that is based entirely on chance. He has built a public arena where men accused of a crime must choose one of two doors. Behind one of the doors is a lady; behind the other is a tiger. If the prisoner chooses the door with the tiger, he is assumed to be guilty, and he will be eaten in front of the entire kingdom. On the other hand, if he chooses the door with the lady, he is presumed innocent, and he marries the lady right there on the spot.

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The king"s beautiful daughter has a personality that is very similar to his. Unbeknownst to him, she falls in love with a courtier, who is far below her in status. When the king finds out about this relationship, he is enraged. He puts the courtier on trial and will let his system of "poetic justice" decide the youth"s fate. He searches his kingdom for the most ferocious tiger and the most beautiful lady. On the day of the courtier"s trial, everyone in the kingdom gathers in the amphitheater.

When the courtier steps into the amphitheater, he bows to the king but his eyes are on the princess. He knows the princess"s character and knows that she would have gone to great lengths to know what each door is concealing. The princess also knows the identity of the lady hiding behind the door: it is a beautiful lady of whom the princess is quite jealous. The courtier and the princess"s eyes meet. He asks her with a glance which door he should choose. The princess makes a miniature gesture towards the door on the right. The courtier marches forward and chooses that door without hesitation.

We are not told what was behind the door that the princess chose for her former lover. Did she choose to send him to death in order to avoid giving him away to another? Or, in order to spare her lover"s life, did she seal her own heartbreak to watch the one she loves marry another? In the end, the question is posed to the reader: what do you think came out of that door? The lady, or the tiger?

Next SectionCharacter ListPrevious SectionAbout The Lady or the Tiger?Buy Study GuideHow To Cite in MLA FormatAllen, Alessandra. Cooper, James ed. "The Lady or the Tiger? Summary"., 2 February 2021 Web. Cite this page





The Lady or the Tiger? Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for The Lady or the Tiger? is a greatresource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss thenovel.

The king is described by the story"s narrator as being "semi-barbaric." He comes from a long line of barbaric ancestors, but he has also been educated by his Latin neighbors. This leads to certain contradictions in the way that he thinks.

Asked byGautam H #1147828

Why was the young man confident that the princess would have found out the secret of the doors?

The lover knows that the princess will find out what is behind the doors. He knows, being a princess, she would never just stand back and let the trial happen without knowing what the outcome would be.

How is the King's system of justice different from most other forms? Why do you think he uses this system?


Asked byAlyssa M #1077358
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Study Guide for The Lady or the Tiger?

The Lady or the Tiger? study guide contains a biography of F Stockton, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

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