Talk around a no-win situation: frank Stockton"s The Lady, or the Tiger? (1882) is a fairy tale and fascinating allegory. Us hope our study overview is specifically useful for teachers and students to fully appreciate the story"s quandary and its themes. It"s a good persuasive writing 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 Notes/Teacher Comments

The King - The semi-barbaric ruler, who enjoys administering righteousness by chance, in which the human being on psychological must blindly choose your fate, whether to die or live through a figured out outcome.

The Princess - The King"s daughter falls in love v a young man, who, as soon as her father learns of your affair, topics him come a perilous fate in which the must select one of two doors. Behind one hold a tiger, who will eat him; the other hides a young maiden whom he have to marry. The Princess, that is semi-barbaric as is her father, knows which door hides every creature, and signals the young man to choose the door on the right. Will she show her barbaric side (being impetuous and jeolous), or her humane side (allow she lover come live, but be with another). The leader is left to guess her decision.

The Young man - The handsome and brave courtier loves the Princess, but when his intentions are found by the King, the is subject to the worst punishment of all, a public demonstration the his fate in i m sorry he encounters either details death, or is required to marry a maiden, fairly than his lovely Princess.

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

Plot Summary: The story is set in a kingdom rule by a semi-barbaric king, that rules calmly and wisely for certain things, but relishes windy trials of chance to administer 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 the fairy tale, quite than a quick story, through the sub-genre that allegory. It has two level of meaning: the very first is the story itself, the second is the symbolic meaning and class it offers the reader.


Determinism versus cost-free Will (alternatively, Fate versus Choice) due to the fact that the King presents an out-of-their control, no-win "choice" because that the Young male (determinism), he and the Princess cannot go after their love because that eachother (free will). Ironically, the Princess deserve to exercise totally free will deciding the fate of her lover, because she knows the secret of what"s behind every door and can choose his fate.

Barbarism versus Progressiveness - Stockton emphatically explained the King as "semi-barbaric" in his self-serving desires and also "exuberant fancy" for public glasses of cruelty (barbarism). However he has a "civilized" next in his commitment to administer justice in one impartial and incorruptible path by chance, and also "develop the psychological energies of the people."

Trust versus betrayal - though the Princess seems to be deeply in love with the young man, and he trusts her with his life, she is faced with 2 opposing emotions: jealousy and also hatred for the young maiden if her lover survives, or mortal anguish need to he it is in devoured through a Tiger. We find out she has actually deliberated long and also hard over both outcomes. The reader is given an ext clues that she"s leaning in the direction of the Tiger-door choice (her barbaric half).

Love it, collection it free

Covet versus True Love - If the leader is pulling because that her civilized half, she could opt for the sentimental (butterfly) option: "If friend love something, collection it free." Wait, would certainly this median he"s "free" to love the maiden? Clearly, it"s one unsolvable difficulty for the Princess, consuming every her energy. Either result is a tragic loss because that her. Ironically, the courtier has absolute to trust in she decision, whichever it may be.

The Tiger

Literary devices & Vocabulary

Literary Devices

Suppressed ending: Stockton supplies the literary machine of supressing the finishing to produce suspense for the reader, i m sorry creates more questions 보다 answers. Just as the Princess deliberates on the "right" choice to overview her lover to his fate, the reader is left guessing, and also wresting with damaging outcomes (particularly because that the Princess). The problem defined in his tale has become a literary expression meaning an unsolvable or impossible difficulty to solve. "Which will certainly it be, the lady or the tiger?"

Symbols: Stockton write an allegory, 2 levels that meaning, in which the depths level is represented by symbols. The doors stand for fate, the tiger to represent death and also punishment, the lady symbolizes innocence and reward (it"s no her error she"s lovely and also the Princess is jealous). "Doleful stole bells" stand for mourning, while "gay brass bells" represent celebration and life. Stockton"s symbols help readers expand their appreciation because that the deeper level that the story"s meaning, and also perhaps called it to their own life lessons.

Interesting Vocabulary

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

Barleycorn: when literally a grain of barley or unit the measurement based on the size of the grain, Stockton"s description: "...every barleycorn a king, knew no heritage to which the owed more allegiance than pleased his fancy" may likewise be a recommendation to an old British folksong personifying the ill-fated: john Bar-Ley-Corn

Choristers: A member that a choir, or someone leading singing, provided in the story to define a "good" outcome: "Another door opened up beneath the king, and a priest, complied with by a band of choristers" and also dancing maidens blow joyous airs on golden horns and also treading an measure."

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

Frank Stockton

Explain what the following price quotes mean and also how castle relate to the story:

"He to be a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, the an government so irresistible that, in ~ his will, that turned his differed fancies into facts. He to be greatly offered to self-communing; and, as soon as he and also himself agreed upon any kind of thing, the point was done."

"The arena the the king was built, not to offer the human being an opportunity of hear the rhapsodies of dice gladiators, no one to allow them to watch the inevitable conclusion that a conflict between spiritual opinions and hungry jaws, but for purposes far better adapted come widen and develop the psychological energies the the people. This substantial amphitheatre, through its encircling galleries, its secret vaults, and also its unseen passages, to be an agent of poetic justice, in i m sorry crime was punished. Or virtue rewarded, by the decrees of one impartial and incorruptible chance."

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

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

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

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

"Possessed of more power, influence, and force of character than any type of one who had ever prior to been interested in together a case, she had done what no other person had done,--she had possessed it s her of the an enig of the doors."

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

"She raised her hand, and made a slight, rapid movement towards the right. No one yet her lover saw her."

"Think the it, same reader, no as if the decision that the question relied on yourself, but upon the hot-blooded, semi-barbaric Princess, her spirit at a white heat beneath the merged fires of despair and jealousy. She had actually lost him, however who should have actually him?"

First execution cover, 1884

1. Describe the meaning 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 uncivilized, and fifty percent not?

2. Stockton begs the question: "Which come out of the opened up door,--the lady, or the tiger?" write a persuasive debate for which an option the Princess finished up making, and also why.

3. Explain why this situation poses one unsolvable problem.

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

5. Think of this tale from the young man"s point of view, if he might choose. If he to be a Romantic, might he die fairly than shed his true love? Or, is the a Realist, settling because that survival with a fair maiden? sure beats being dead.

6. Making use of the literary device of allegory, the story has two layers of meaning. Explain each layer and what the signs represent.

7. Called the principle of "fate" to a instance in your very own life wherein a "choice" wasn"t really approximately you. Have you ever before had to make a "lady or the tiger?" decision?

8. Read the sequel to this story, The Discourager the Hesitancy, and also compare the King"s "choice" offered to a visiting prince requesting a wife, v the young man"s in this story.

9. Think that a story, book, or movie in i beg your pardon the ending was withheld, leaving the leader or audience to determine the ending, or guessing what wake up next. (Can"t think of one? try the take care of Potter series). Discuss why this is one appealing an approach to save us coming ago for more?

The Discourager that Hesitancy

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

The Discourager the Hesitancy, the story"s sequel, in which the leader eagerly really hopes to discover which fate the Princess decided for she lover in the an initial story.

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

Marjorie Daw by thomas Bailey Aldrich, supplies a dramatic surprised ending.

The many Dangerous video game by Richard Connell, another story through an difficult "choice"-- both of deadly consequence.

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

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

See more: Romeo + Jul I Will Bite My Thumb At Them, Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Choose one of these principles Tales and also compare the lesson come this story.

Barbarian or Civilized?

Biography and Works by candid Stockton

Lesson to plan and tasks for The Lady, or the Tiger?

Barbarism and Civilization in The Lady, or the Tiger?

Storyboard That differentiated Lesson Plan

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