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

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In the short story "The Lady or the Tiger?" what is the setting, conflict, and outline in sequential order of events in the story? Which are the main characters, and which are simply supporting characters?

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The setting of the story is an unnamed, imaginary kingdom of ancient times, ruled by what the narrator calls tongue-in-cheek, a "semi-barbaric" king. In fact, the king, as the narrator's exposition of him shows, is fully a barbaric tyrant, ready to impose his will no matter what the cost or how irrational his idea. More specifically, most of the story is set in the arena in which "justice" is meted out in his kingdom before a huge audience.

The story's main conflict rages within the king's daughter's heart. Her beloved has been accused of the crime of being in love with her, which is potentially deserving of death because she is so above his station. This means he will have to face the king's system of "poetic" justice. He has to choose between two doors. Behind one is a ravenous tiger who will eat him alive. Behind the other is a beautiful maiden who he will marry to great fanfare if he chooses it. The princess has discovered what will lurk behind each door. She will signal to her...

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