Talk about a no-win situation: candid Stockton"s The Lady, or the Tiger? (1882) is a fairy tale and also fascinating allegory. We hope ours study overview is an especially useful because that teachers and students to fully appreciate the story"s quandary and its themes. It"s a an excellent persuasive creating prompt.

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Read the story: The Lady, or the Tiger?, Character evaluation & Summary, Genre & Themes, literary Devices, Quotes, conversation Questions, combine Readings, advantageous Links, and Notes/Teacher Comments

The King - The semi-barbaric ruler, who enjoys administering righteousness by chance, in i beg your pardon the human on trial must blindly choose their fate, whether to die or live through a established outcome.

The Princess - The King"s daughter drops in love through a young man, who, when her dad learns of your affair, topics him come a perilous fate in which he must select one of 2 doors. Behind one holds a tiger, that will eat him; the other hides a young maiden who he need to marry. The Princess, who is semi-barbaric as is her father, to know which door hides each creature, and signals the young male to choose the door top top the right. Will she present her barbaric side (being impetuous and also jeolous), or she humane side (allow her lover come live, yet be with another). The leader is left come guess she decision.

The Young man - The handsome and also brave courtier loves the Princess, however when his intentions are uncovered by the King, the is topic to the worst punishment of all, a publicly demonstration the his fate in i beg your pardon he deals with either details death, or is compelled to get married a maiden, quite than his lovely Princess.

The Lady - The lovely young maiden who waits behind among the doors and would it is in the Young Man"s bride if that chooses her door, is hated by the Princess.

Plot Summary: The story is collection in a kingdom rule by a semi-barbaric king, that rules calmly and also wisely for details things, yet relishes public trials of opportunity to carry out justice for things he care about, primarly for his very own pleasure.

The Lady

Genre & Themes


The Lady, or the Tiger? is in the genre of fairy tale, rather than a short story, with the sub-genre that allegory. It has two levels of meaning: the first is the story itself, the second is its symbolic an interpretation and class it offers the reader.


Determinism versus complimentary Will (alternatively, Fate matches Choice) since the King gift an out-of-their control, no-win "choice" because that the Young male (determinism), he and the Princess cannot pursue their love because that eachother (free will). Ironically, the Princess deserve to exercise totally free will deciding the fate of she lover, due to the fact that she to know the mystery of what"s behind each door and can choose his fate.

Barbarism versus Progressiveness - Stockton emphatically explained the King together "semi-barbaric" in his self-serving desires and "exuberant fancy" because that public glasses of cruelty (barbarism). However he has a "civilized" side in his meeting to carry out justice in an impartial and incorruptible path by chance, and also "develop the mental energies that the people."

Trust versus betrayal - despite the Princess seems to be deep in love v the young man, and also he trusts her v his life, she is confronted with 2 opposing emotions: jealousy and also hatred for the young maiden if she lover survives, or mortal anguish need to he be devoured by a Tiger. We discover she has actually deliberated long and also hard end both outcomes. The leader is given more clues the she"s leaning towards the Tiger-door alternative (her barbaric half).

Love it, collection it free

Covet matches True Love - If the reader is pulling for her civilized half, she might opt for the sentimental (butterfly) option: "If you love something, set it free." Wait, would this mean he"s "free" to love the maiden? Clearly, it"s one unsolvable trouble for the Princess, consuming all her energy. Either result is a catastrophic loss for her. Ironically, the courtier has actually absolute to trust in she decision, whichever it may be.

The Tiger

Literary tools & Vocabulary

Literary Devices

Suppressed ending: Stockton offers the literary device of supressing the ending to develop suspense because that the reader, i beg your pardon creates much more questions 보다 answers. Simply as the Princess deliberates ~ above the "right" an option to overview her lover to his fate, the reader is left guessing, and wresting with damaging outcomes (particularly because that the Princess). The problem described in his story has end up being a literature expression definition an unsolvable or impossible problem to solve. "Which will certainly it be, the lady or the tiger?"

Symbols: Stockton to write an allegory, two levels the meaning, in i m sorry the depths level is stood for by symbols. The doors represent fate, the tiger to represent death and punishment, the lady symbolizes innocence and also reward (it"s not her fault she"s lovely and the Princess is jealous). "Doleful iron bells" represent mourning, when "gay brass bells" represent celebration and also life. Stockton"s symbols assist readers broaden their appreciation because that the deeper level of the story"s meaning, and also perhaps relate it to their own life lessons.

Interesting Vocabulary

Semi-barbaric: fifty percent savage or uncivilized, brutal and cruel, the other half civilized or "not quite" barbaric. It"s a confusing juxtaposition, which makes it a perfect adjective to define the King and also the Princess.

Barleycorn: while literally a serial of barley or unit the measurement based on the length of the grain, Stockton"s description: "...every barleycorn a king, knew no heritage to which he owed much more allegiance than pleased his fancy" may likewise be a reference to an ancient British folksong personifying the ill-fated: man Bar-Ley-Corn

Choristers: A member of a choir, or who leading singing, used in the story to define a "good" outcome: "Another door opened up beneath the king, and a priest, followed by a band of choristers" and dancing maidens blowing joyous airs on gold horns and also treading an measure."

Moiety: each of two components (another reference to semi-barbaric): "Had it not been because that the moiety of barbarism in her nature, it is probable that lady would certainly not have actually been there."

Frank Stockton

Explain what the following quotes mean and also how lock relate come the story:

"He was a guy of exuberant fancy, and, withal, that an government so irresistible that, in ~ his will, he turned his differed fancies into facts. He was greatly provided to self-communing; and, when he and also himself i agree upon any thing, the point was done."

"The arena the the king was built, no to give the civilization an chance of listening the rhapsodies of dice gladiators, no one to allow them to view the unpreventable conclusion that a dispute between religious opinions and hungry jaws, yet for functions far far better adapted to widen and also develop the mental energies the the people. This large amphitheatre, through its encircling galleries, its mysterious vaults, and also its unseen passages, to be an certified dealer of poetic justice, in i beg your pardon crime to be punished. Or virtue rewarded, by the decrees of an impartial and also incorruptible chance."

"The minute that the case of the criminal was therefore decided, doleful steel bells were clanged, an excellent wails went up from the rental mourners post on the outer rim the the arena, and also the substantial audience, through bowed heads and downcast hearts, wended gradually their homeward way, mourning significantly that one for this reason young and fair, or so old and also respected, should have actually merited so dire a fate."

"The decision of this tribunal to be not just fair, they were positively determinate: the accused person was soon punished if he discovered himself guilty; and, if innocent, he to be rewarded on the spot, whether he liked it or not. There to be no escape indigenous the judgments or the king"s arena."

"Among his courtiers to be a young man of the fineness the blood and lowness that station common to the traditional heroes of romance who love royal maidens. This royal maiden to be well satisfied through her lover, because that he to be handsome and brave come a degree unsurpassed in every this kingdom; and she loved him with an ardor the had sufficient of barbarism in the to do it exceedingly warm and strong."

"He had loved the Princess, and also neither he, she, nor any kind of one else thought of denying the fact; but the king would not think of allowing any truth of this sort to interfere through the operations of the tribunal, in which he take it such good delight and also satisfaction."

"Possessed of much more power, influence, and also force of personality than any kind of one who had ever prior to been interested in such a case, she had actually done what no other person had done,--she had actually possessed it s her of the secret of the doors."

"It was among tile fairest and loveliest of the damsels the the court who had actually been selected as the prize of the accused youth, should he be showed innocent the the crime of aspiring come one therefore far above him; and also the Princess hated her."

"She raised her hand, and also made a slight, quick movement towards the right. No one but her lover witnessed her."

"Think that it, same reader, not as if the decision that the question depended on yourself, however upon that hot-blooded, semi-barbaric Princess, her heart at a white heat beneath the combined fires the despair and jealousy. She had lost him, but who should have him?"

First execution cover, 1884

1. Define the definition of "semi-barbaric" and why it"s a perfect adjective to define both the King and also the Princess. How have the right to someone be half cruel, brutal and uncivilized, and half not?

2. Stockton begs the question: "Which came out of the opened up door,--the lady, or the tiger?" compose a persuasive dispute for which selection the Princess ended up making, and why.

3. Explain why this case poses an unsolvable problem.

4. Determinism versus cost-free Will is just one of the story"s themes. Describe both concepts as revealed in this tale."

5. Think of this tale from the young man"s suggest of view, if he could choose. If he to be a Romantic, could he die rather than lose his true love? Or, is that a Realist, settling because that survival with a same maiden? certain beats gift dead.

6. Using the literary machine of allegory, the story has two class of meaning. Describe each layer and what the icons represent.

7. Relate the ide of "fate" to a situation in your very own life where a "choice" wasn"t really up to you. Have actually you ever before had to make a "lady or the tiger?" decision?

8. Review the sequel come this story, The Discourager the Hesitancy, and compare the King"s "choice" readily available to a visiting prince requesting a wife, with the young man"s in this story.

9. Think that a story, book, or movie in i m sorry the ending was withheld, leave the leader or audience to recognize the ending, or guessing what happens next. (Can"t think that one? try the harry Potter series). Comment on why this is one appealing an approach to keep us coming back for more?

The Discourager of Hesitancy

Compare The Lady, or the Tiger? themes and literary devices to these stories:

The Discourager the Hesitancy, the story"s sequel, in i m sorry the reader eagerly wishes to discover which fate the Princess decided for her lover in the very first story.

The Monkey"s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, which shares the literary machine of a drastically suppressed ending, leave the reader to number it out.

Marjorie Daw by thomas Bailey Aldrich, uses a dramatic surprise ending.

The many Dangerous game by Richard Connell, an additional story with an impossible "choice"-- both of deadly consequence.

The travelling Companion through Hans Christian Andersen, compare the Princesses" character, motives, and "evilness."

The Cunning small Tailor by The brother Grimm, compare the riddling Princess, and also whether both stories share facets of the fairy story genre.

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