Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Lady, or the Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton Analysis

'The Lady, or the Tiger?' is a philosophical tale written by the American author Frank R. Stockton. The question in the title may be familiar to many Americans. It is used in various situations when a difficult choice needs to be made.

The plot is about a semi-barbaric king, who found pleasure in organizing trials in a big arena in front of a large audience. In the arena, there were two doors leading to separate rooms. Behind one was a lady, behind another - a tiger. The accused criminal was placed in the arena and faced a difficult choice. If the accused chose the room with a lady, he was proven innocent, and a great wedding was celebrated. If he chose the room with the tiger, he was considered proven guilty and met a sad end as the tiger tore him to pieces.

There was a young man from an ordinary family who was in love with the King's daughter. The princess loved him too: he had a generous character, he was handsome and he loved her very much.

When the king found out about their relationship, he became furious. The young man was captured and thrown in jail. Shortly thereafter, it was his turn to be on trial in the arena. The princess having influence in the court knew which room the lady was in and which the tiger was in. The lady, who would be the potential bride of the Princess’ lover, was a beautiful girl. She was also in love with this young man.

The young man went out into the arena, he immediately looked at the princess, and she gave him a sign with her right hand. He went to the right door without a moment's hesitation….

According to my observations and discussions with others about this story, it is my opinion the princess pointed her lover to the room with the lady because she loved him. However, according to the interpretations of others, the princess inherited semi-barbaric characteristics from her father and pointed to the door with the tiger. The logic of her possible intention is opposite of the previous assumption.

Frank R. Stockton didn't disclose what happened after that. He left this choice to his readers.

Here a link to the text of the story:

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