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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For "The Lady, or the Tiger?," we have to news report from the arena about the decision of the young man. What can we write?

As a news report, you can describe the layout of the coliseum, describing the galleries that are filled with people. You can describe some of their comments such as how handsome the prisoner is or how they did not know that someone so good looking lived in this community. Then, you will begin to discuss what has happened in a brief summary. If the young man was killed by the tiger, it shows us that the barbaric princess could not bear for him to be with another woman. However, if she saves him by opening the other door and letting out a maiden to marry him, then she must be in agony because she has chosen against her own love.

Expert Answers

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If you are doing a live news report, you would begin by introducing the situation to the audience, explaining that you are at the arena, the site of the impartial justice of the king which is to be meted to a young man who has heretofore been a lover to the beautiful princess, but the king has learned of the young man. He has been imprisoned where he was immediately taken upon the king's discovery, and is now faced with the choice of two doors, one of which holds a deadly tiger, while the other holds a lovely maiden who, if the door is opened, will step forth to be married to the youth. 

As all of you look around, one of your group can describe the great galleries that are flooded with people, while crowds unanble to find seating are standing outside the wall of this coliseum. Another can describe some of the comments of the people; for example, they can remark on the prisoner's handsomeness, or how they did not know such an Adonis existed in their community. For a brief time, the reporters may wish to discuss a few things among themselves such as the rumors of how disturbed the princess is; in fact, one of the attendants to the princess has said that the princess has started from her sleep and "...gnashed her teeth, and torn her hair, in her wild imaginings of the young man's delight as he opened the door of the lady," calling out wildly. 

At last the moment arrives and the young man is brought into the arena. He is flushed and tension is registered upon his brow, one of the reporters notes. Then, a commentator can paraphrase this passage: 

...her lover turned and looked at her [the princess] and his eye met hers as she sat there paler and whiter than anyone in the vast ocean of anxious faces about her, [and] he saw...that she knew behind which door crouched the tiger and behind which stood the lady. (You can say that the princess looks as though she knows behind which....)

One of the commentators can ask, "Did anyone notice that she "made a slight, quick movement toward the right?"

"No, but he is walking that direction," another can say.

"He's opening the door on the right!"

"Has the princess told him the door to the maiden?"

Then, your group can decide which door is opened. If he is slain by the tiger, it will be apparent that the barbaric princess has not been able to bear for him to be with another. Or, if she has saved him, she must be in agony as he is to be married to this beautiful damsel.

Finally, describe the crowd's reaction.

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