Frank R. Stockton's "The Lady, or the Tiger?" is considered a tale rather than a story because it approaches allegory with characters who are more representative than real, and it is written in a mannered style, with the elemental human emotions of love and hate and self-preservation developed in the narrative.
This tale also contains irony and ambiguity, elements of satire. As the narrative begins whimsically as though it were a fairy tale, the king is described in what one critic calls "biblical language" that is also political satire.
He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts. He was greatly given to self-communing; and when he and himself agreed upon any thing, the thing was done.
Another example of satire is in this description of the subjects' minds being "refined and cultured" by semi-barbaric exhibitions:
Among the borrowed notion by which his barbarism had become semified was that of the public arena, in which, by exhibitions of manly and beastly valor, the minds of his subjects were refined and cultured.
The narrator uses verbal irony as he describes the king's nature as "bland and genial" and then "blander and more genial still" if there were a "little hitch, and some of his orbs got out of their orbits." Certainly, putting people to death is not done by someone whose nature is "bland and genial." The phrase "Little hitch" is hyperbolic (an obvious exaggeration) since the king's "orbs got out of their orbits," meaning things were not going as he wanted. Also, this brutal king would not consider something which does not work out as he desires as a "little hitch."