two doorways with an elegant woman standing in one and a large tiger head in the other

The Lady, or the Tiger?

by Francis Richard Stockton

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Are the young man's conflicts internal or external?

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The young man’s conflict in “The Lady or the Tiger” is an external conflict.  The young man is accused of the crime of loving the king’s daughter.  This is the external conflict of man vs. man.  The king is enraged because the young man has dared to love his beautiful daughter in secret; therefore, he decides the young man must face the trial of the lady or the tiger.  “No matter how the affair turned out, the youth would be disposed of, and the king would take an aesthetic pleasure in watching the course of events, which would determine whether or not the young man had done wrong in allowing himself to love the princess.”  The conflict here is the king vs. the young man, or man vs. man, an external conflict. 

The other external conflict is also man vs. man (or in this case, woman).  The princess is very angry at the young man because she knows who the girl is he may have to marry.  She thinks about it for a long time, and she decides that she has seen a number of glances pass between her lover and the girl behind the door.  “Think of it, fair reader, not as if the decision of the question depended upon yourself, but upon that hot-blooded, semi-barbaric princess, her soul at a white heat beneath the combined fires of despair and jealousy. She had lost him, but who should have him?”  Although the reader does not know the outcome of the story, one can see that the princess is very angry at the young man, which makes this a man vs. man, or external conflict.

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