Talk around a no-win situation: open minded Stockton"s The Lady, or the Tiger? (1882) is a fairy tale and also fascinating allegory. We hope our study guide is particularly useful because that teachers and students to completely 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 analysis & Summary, Genre & Themes, literature Devices, Quotes, discussion Questions, combine Readings, helpful Links, and also Notes/Teacher Comments

The King - The semi-barbaric ruler, that enjoys administering righteousness by chance, in i m sorry the human being on psychological must blindly choose your fate, even if it is to dice or live v a identified outcome.

The Princess - The King"s daughter drops in love through a young man, who, once her father learns of your affair, subjects him to a perilous fate in which he must select one of 2 doors. Behind one hold a tiger, who will eat him; the various other hides a young maiden who he need to marry. The Princess, who is semi-barbaric together is her father, knows which door hides each creature, and also signals the young male to pick the door ~ above the right. Will she display her barbaric next (being impetuous and also jeolous), or she humane side (allow she lover to live, but be with another). The reader is left to guess she decision.

The Young male - The handsome and also brave courtier loves the Princess, but when his intentions are found by the King, he is topic to the worst penalty of all, a public demonstration that his fate in i beg your pardon he encounters either certain death, or is forced to marry a maiden, quite than his lover Princess.

The Lady - The lover young maiden who waits behind one of the doors and would be the Young Man"s bride if he chooses she door, is hated by the Princess.

Plot Summary: The story is set in a kingdom rule by a semi-barbaric king, who rules calmly and wisely for details things, however relishes publicly trials of possibility to provide justice for things he care about, primarly because that his own pleasure.

The Lady

Genre & Themes


The Lady, or the Tiger? is in the genre of fairy tale, quite than a short story, through the sub-genre of allegory. It has actually two levels of meaning: the an initial is the story itself, the 2nd is the symbolic an interpretation and class it uses the reader.


Determinism versus free Will (alternatively, Fate versus Choice) because the King presents an out-of-their control, no-win "choice" because that the Young male (determinism), he and the Princess cannot seek their love for eachother (free will). Ironically, the Princess can exercise complimentary will deciding the fate of she lover, since she to know the secret of what"s behind every door and also can select his fate.

Barbarism versus Progressiveness - Stockton emphatically defined the King as "semi-barbaric" in his self-serving desires and also "exuberant fancy" because that public spectacles of cruelty (barbarism). Yet he has actually a "civilized" side in his commitment to provide justice in one impartial and incorruptible manner by chance, and "develop the psychological energies the the people."

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

Love it, collection it free

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

The Tiger

Literary devices & Vocabulary

Literary Devices

Suppressed ending: Stockton uses the literary device of supressing the finishing to create suspense because that the reader, which creates an ext questions than answers. Just as the Princess deliberates ~ above the "right" choice to guide her lover to his fate, the reader is left guessing, and also wresting with damaging outcomes (particularly for the Princess). The problem defined in his tale has end up being a literary expression definition an unsolvable or impossible difficulty to solve. "Which will it be, the lady or the tiger?"

Symbols: Stockton write an allegory, 2 levels of meaning, in i m sorry the depths level is stood for by symbols. The doors represent fate, the tiger to represent death and also punishment, the lady symbolizes innocence and also reward (it"s no her fault she"s lovely and the Princess is jealous). "Doleful steel bells" stand for mourning, if "gay brass bells" represent celebration and life. Stockton"s symbols aid readers expand their appreciation for the depth level that the story"s meaning, and also perhaps said it to their very own life lessons.

Interesting Vocabulary

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

Barleycorn: when literally a serial of barley or unit that measurement based on the length of the grain, Stockton"s description: "...every barleycorn a king, knew no heritage to which he owed an ext allegiance 보다 pleased his fancy" may additionally be a reference to an old British folksong personifying the ill-fated: john Bar-Ley-Corn

Choristers: A member that a choir, or who leading singing, supplied in the story to describe a "good" outcome: "Another door opened beneath the king, and a priest, adhered to by a tape of choristers" and dancing maidens punch joyous airs on golden horns and also treading an measure."

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

Frank Stockton

Explain what the following estimates mean and how they relate to the story:

"He to be a male of exuberant fancy, and, withal, the an government so irresistible that, at his will, that turned his varied fancies right into facts. He was greatly provided to self-communing; and, when he and himself i agreeed upon any thing, the thing was done."

"The arena of the king was built, no to provide the civilization an possibility of hearing the rhapsodies of dice gladiators, no one to enable them to see the inevitable conclusion the a dispute between spiritual opinions and hungry jaws, but for functions far far better adapted to widen and also develop the psychological energies that the people. This huge amphitheatre, with its encircling galleries, its mysterious vaults, and also its unseen passages, to be an agent of poetic justice, in which crime was punished. Or virtue rewarded, by the decrees of one impartial and incorruptible chance."

"The moment that the instance of the criminal was thus decided, doleful iron bells to be clanged, great wails went up from the hired mourners posted on the outer rim of the arena, and also the vast audience, through bowed heads and downcast hearts, wended progressively their homeward way, mourning substantially that one so young and also fair, or for this reason old and also respected, should have actually merited so dire a fate."

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

"Among his courtiers to be a young male of that fineness that blood and also lowness of station common to the typical heroes that romance that love royal maidens. This imperial maiden was well satisfied v her lover, for he to be handsome and also brave to a level unsurpassed in every this kingdom; and also she love him through an ardor that had enough of barbarism in the to do it exceedingly warm and also strong."

"He had actually loved the Princess, and neither he, she, nor any one else assumed of denying the fact; but the king would not think of permitting any truth of this type to interfere v the workings of the tribunal, in i m sorry he took such great delight and also satisfaction."

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

"It was among tile fairest and also loveliest that the damsels the the court who had been selected together the reward of the accused youth, must he be showed innocent the the crime of aspiring to one for this reason far over him; and the Princess hated her."

"She raised her hand, and also made a slight, rapid movement toward the right. No one however her lover observed her."

"Think the it, same reader, not as if the decision of the question relied on yourself, yet upon the hot-blooded, semi-barbaric Princess, her spirit at a white warm beneath the combined fires of despair and also jealousy. She had lost him, however who should have actually him?"

First edition cover, 1884

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

2. Stockton begs the question: "Which came out the the opened up door,--the lady, or the tiger?" create a persuasive dispute for which an option the Princess finished up making, and why.

3. Explain why this instance poses one unsolvable problem.

4. Determinism versus complimentary Will is just one of the story"s themes. Explain both principles as revealed in this tale."

5. Think the this story from the young man"s allude of view, if he might choose. If he was a Romantic, could he die fairly than lose his true love? Or, is that a Realist, settling because that survival through a fair maiden? certain beats being dead.

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

7. Relate the ide of "fate" come a instance in your own life wherein a "choice" wasn"t really as much as you. Have you ever had to make a "lady or the tiger?" decision?

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

9. Think the a story, book, or movie in i beg your pardon the finishing was withheld, leaving the leader or audience to recognize the ending, or guessing what happens next. (Can"t think that one? try the harry Potter series). Discuss why this is one appealing technique to keep us coming back for more?

The Discourager of Hesitancy

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

The Discourager the Hesitancy, the story"s sequel, in i beg your pardon the leader eagerly really hopes to discover which fate the Princess decided for her lover in the very first story.

The Monkey"s Paw through W.W. Jacobs, which share the literary maker of a dramatically suppressed ending, leaving the reader to number it out.

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

The most Dangerous game by Richard Connell, one more story through an impossible "choice"-- both of deadly consequence.

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

The Cunning tiny Tailor by The brothers Grimm, compare the riddling Princess, and whether both story share aspects of the fairy tale genre.

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