How is jealousy a pervasive theme in ''The Lady or the Tiger?''?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Clearly the central situation of the story leads itself to the discussion of jealousy as a major theme. The beautiful princess of the story has to decide whether to allow her lover to gain his life but spend it married to another woman, or to lose his life because of his love for her and die at the hands of a savage tiger. Consider towards the end of the story when we are told that the Princess has gained knowledge of which door contains which fate for her lover, and then goes on to talk about the maiden that has been chosen for him:

And not only did she know in which room stood the lady ready to emerge, all blushing and radiant, should her door be opened, but she knew who the lady was. It was one of the fairest and loveliest of the damsels of the course who had been selected as the reward of the accursed youth, should be be proved innocent of the crime of aspiring to one so far above him; and the princess hated her. Often had she seen, or imagined that she had see, this fair creature throwing glances of admiration upon the person of her lover, and sometimes she thought these glances were perceived and even returned. Now and then she had seen them talking together; it was but for a moment or two, but much can be said in a brief space; it may have been on most unimportant topics, but how could she know that? The girl was lovely, but she had dared to raise her eyes to the loved one of the princess; and , with all the intensity of the savage blood transmitted to her through long lines on wholly barbaric ancestors, she hated the woman who blushed and trembled behind that silent door.

This long quote is worth including in full because it completely goes to the heart of the dilemma the princess faces and in particular the jealousy that she feels and her possessive notions about her lover. She has it in her power to decide whether he lives being married to this damsel who she is jealous of, or whether he dies and she remains the object of her affections. Of course, the "savage blood" referred to in the description of her jealousy, implies very strongly that she will "keep" her lover for ever by consigning him to his death.

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