The Lady or the Tiger? Questions and Answers
by Francis Richard Stockton

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How does the arena relate to the story's situation in its symbolism in "The Lady, or the Tiger"?

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The arena is the venue for the semi-barbaric king's system of justice, and as such it symbolizes the cruel and autocratic rule of the king; it is also the crux of the internal conflicts of the semi-barbaric princess and her lover. 

  • As symbol of the king's rule

Among his borrowed notions was that of the public arena...by exhibitions of manly and beastly valor, the minds of his subjects were refined and cultured.

Of course, these words are ironic. There is no "valor"; those involved in the exhibitions are engaged in the struggle against beasts to survive. By forcing his subjects to watch these life-and-death struggles, the king places the people helplessly within his cruel culture, and they realize that the those in the...

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