Do you believe the "Lady or the Tiger" trial system is fair?

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Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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No, I would say this system is not fair at all. First of all, each subject has only been "accused of a crime of sufficient importance to interest the king." This does not mean that the person has actually committed the crime of which they are accused. Nonetheless, an innocent person could easily choose the tiger's door and die for no reason other than that he made an unfortunate choice. On the other hand, a person who is actually guilty of committing some crime could get off scot-free, without any punishment. In addition, since the prisoner who chooses the door with the lady behind it will be forced to marry her, whether or not he wants to or whether or not he is already married, this also seems incredibly unfair. A person who is merely accused of a crime could actually have his entire life uprooted and destroyed despite the fact that he is not actually guilty of anything. Further, there are a great many punishments that lie between life and death (and a gruesome, brutal death at that); it would be more fair to try the accused and then inflict a punishment that is in proportion to their crime, if they actually did commit one.

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mizzwillie eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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If you look at the first line of this short story, "The Lady or the Tiger", semi-barbaric is the word used to describe the king.  When you consider that one word, you know that the fairy tale story with the fairy tale ending is not in the cards for the end of this story.  Stockton is turning the fairy tale expectations upside down.  I think with clues or foreshadowing that strong, the trial is fair.  What frustrates most readers is not knowing the ending.  Yet, that was exactly what the author wanted-- a discussion of what the ending should be and why the person thought that.  He was provoking the reader into thinking, and I believe that is a good thing, making the trial system fair as, after all, the king is semi-barbaric.

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