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In "The Lady or the Tiger," a young man who loves a princess must stand trial for daring to get above his station in wooing a royal. In this country, a trial consists of the accused opening one of two doors. Out of one door will jump a ravenous tiger that will eat the accused. In that case, it's assumed the accused is guilty. Out of a second door will come a beautiful maiden. If the accused chooses that door, he is assumed innocent and marries the maiden.
The princess discovers which door the tiger and maiden are behind. She also discovers that the maiden is a beautiful woman who she is jealous of and who has shown an interest in the young man in the past. When the time comes, the young man looks to the princess to see what door to pick. The story ends there, leaving the reader to decide what door the princess directed her lover to open.
The "hot-blooded" princess in "The Lady or the Tiger?" by Frank Stockton uses "power and a woman's will" to learn the secret of the two doors in the king's arena. Her lover faces a horrible death if she were to fail. Not only does she uncover the secret of the doors, behind which will hide the tiger, but she also uncovered the identity of the lady in question. With this knowledge, the princess' decision to save her handsome young lover becomes infinitely more complicated. The princess just happens to hate the lady that will pose as a potential reward and bride to her lover should he choose the correct door. The climax of the plot depends upon her decision to save her lover from a terrifying tiger or to see him wed blissfully in the arms of the one woman she hates most.
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