The Lady, Or The Tiger Summary, Themes & Characters [Frank R. Stockton]

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The Lady, Or The Tiger Analysis

Story TitleThe Lady, Or The Tiger
AuthorFrank R. Stockton
GenreShort Story
Publication Year1882
SettingA semi-barbaric kingdom
Main CharactersThe king, The princess, The young man
ThemesLove and jealousy, Fate and decision-making,
Morality and justice, Human nature
Literary StyleAllegory, Ambiguity, Suspense, Moral dilemma

The Lady Or The Tiger Characters

The main characters of “The Lady Or The Tiger” are:

  • The King – Ruler of the kingdom.
  • The Princess – Daughter of the King.
  • The Courtier – A young man in love with the Princess.
  • The Lady – One of the choices in the arena.
  • The Tiger – The other choice in the arena.

The Lady Or The Tiger Themes

  • Choices and Consequences – This theme explores the idea of making difficult decisions and dealing with the consequences that follow.
  • Love and Jealousy – The story delves into the complex emotions of love and jealousy, highlighting the power they hold over individuals and the potential for their destructive nature.
  • The Cruelty of Fate – The theme of fate highlights the arbitrary and often harsh nature of destiny, showcasing how it can impact the lives of individuals in unexpected and unfair ways.
  • Moral Dilemmas – The story raises ethical questions regarding the choices individuals make and the moral implications of those choices, forcing readers to consider the gray areas of decision-making.

The Lady Or The Tiger Summary

The narrative opens with a description of a long-gone ruler. The king’s authority is rather savage, yet he is also peaceful and pleasant to his subjects. This monarch, who was only a little affected by the Romans who ruled nearby, did not arrange gladiator bouts or the execution of religious convicts in his arena to entertain his followers. Instead, this monarch unusually handled criminal trials. In his realm, these trials were viral.

There were two doorways in the king’s arena. A tiger hid behind one door, while a lady hid behind the other. The authorities led the guy accused of a crime into the hall and instructed him to choose one of the two entrances.

If he chose the door with the tiger behind it, he would be killed by the tiger, and thus declared guilty of the crime. If he picked the lady’s door, he was declared innocent and married to her right away by a waiting priest. The monarch insisted on carrying out his chosen award regardless of the circumstances of the innocent newlywed man, irrespective of whether he had wed before.

At some point, the king learns of a scandal concerning his daughter, the princess & he uncovers that she is having an affair with a young man of low social status. The king considers the crime heinous and demands a traditional trial for the lover. This time, they placed the most fierce tiger in the kingdom behind one door while the most stunning lady in the domain was behind the other. The crowds are enormous & even those who cannot enter the amphitheatre rush inward to see the trial.

Because she is in love with the young man on trial, the princess has learned which door houses the tiger and which house houses the woman. She also knows the lady is from the king’s court and despises her for her lustful attention to the princess’s boyfriend. The princess becomes envious of the lady eagerly anticipating her marriage to the young guy. 

As usual, the young guy enters the arena at the trial and bows to the monarch. But, while he does so, he turns to the princess for a hint about which door he should select, fearing that she has used her clout to determine which entry contains which fate. The princess swiftly moves to the right, and the young man rushes to the right door—however, the chance the princess has assigned to him, and herself is unknown. 

She may have spared his life, but she also sentenced herself to the pain of seeing him blissfully married to a different woman. On the other side, she may have chosen his heinous death, through which they would both suffer but will finally be reunited hereafter.

The narrative closes without telling what was behind the right-hand door. The spectator wonders if the princess chose life or death for her beloved.

The Lady Or The Tiger FAQs

What is the main idea of the story The Lady, or the Tiger?

The main idea of “The Lady, or the Tiger?” is the exploration of human nature’s conflicting emotions, choices and the consequences that follow.

Did the princess chose The Lady, or the Tiger?

The princess’s choice between the lady or the tiger is left unresolved in the story, leaving it up to the reader’s interpretation.

How is the problem solved in the story of The Lady, or the Tiger?

The problem is left unresolved in the story. The reader is left to decide whether the lady or the tiger emerges from the chosen door.

What is the ending of the story of the lady or the tiger?

The ending of “The Lady, or the Tiger is intentionally left ambiguous, leaving the reader to speculate whether the lady or the tiger is chosen.

What is the moral lesson of the lady or the tiger?

The moral lesson of “The Lady or the Tiger?” is that the power of love can be both selfless and destructive, leading to difficult choices and unpredictable outcomes.

About the Author– Frank R. Stockton

The Lady Or The Tiger Summary, Analysis, Themes & Characters [Frank R. Stockton]
Full NameFrank R. Stockton
BirthdateApril 5, 1834
Death dateApril 20, 1902
Famous Works-The Lady or the Tiger?
-The Griffin and the Minor Canon
-The Bee-Man of Orn
Literary GenreFiction, Short Stories, Humor
Writing StyleEngaging storytelling, wit
unexpected plot twists
Literary PeriodLate 19th century

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