In The Lady, or the Tiger?, for what crime was the young man thrown into prison?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The young man made the serious mistake of falling in love with the king's daughter and engaging in a passionate love affair with her. 

Among his courtiers was a young man of that fineness of blood and lowness of station common to the conventional heroes of romance who love royal maidens....This love affair moved on happily for many months, until one day the king happened to discover its existence. He did not hesitate nor waver in regard to his duty in the premises. The youth was immediately cast into prison, and a day was appointed for his trial in the king's arena.

What the king apparently objected to was not the love affair itself but the fact that the young man had too low a "social station" to dare to engage in such a relationship with his daughter. There may not have been any law against doing what the young man was doing, but the barbaric king could make his own laws. And that was what he was doing. At least the king was giving the poor fellow a fifty-fifty chance to stay alive and even to marry a beautiful girl if he chose the right door. 

The fact that there is a beautiful girl behind one of the two doors is what causes the problem. The princess knows which door conceals the tiger, and she would undoubtedly direct her lover to the other door if it did not conceal a beautiful girl whom her lover would immediately marry. Whatever was going to happen happened a long, long time ago. The story opens with the words:

In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king...

clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The "semibarbaric" king had an interesting way of deciding the guilt or innocence of people who committed crimes. Essentially the guilty were thrown into an arena and asked to choose between two doors. If a person was innocent then that person's innocence would somehow draw them to choose the door that led to a wife. If a person was guilty then their guilt could not be hidden for when they chose a door it would inevitably be a ferocious tiger that would rip him apart.

The young man in the story did not really commit a crime, but he had fallen in love with the king's beautiful daughter and she in turn was in love with him. He was only a commoner and therefore not worthy of the love of a king's daughter. In an effort to stop his daughter from dipping below her station in life he had the man brought into the arena to choose his fate. The king did not care what the man chose because either choice would ensure that his daughter would be free of the forbidden love affair. The story does not specifically state his crime, only that he was arrested and thrown into prison to be put on trial.

mickey2bailey eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The young man, in The Lady, or the Tiger?, was thrown in prison because the King found out about the love affair he had been carrying on, for months, with his daughter.  Also it was not allowed for a commoner to court Royalty, even though he was one of the King's Royal Attendants.  This was not a crime as we know it today, but in this kingdom, where laws are not logical to us, he was considered a criminal.

Reference:  The Language and Literature Book by McDougal Littell

cartoon | Student

the young prince did not commit a crime ,although he just had fallen love with kin's daughter

lesli93 | Student

He actually didn't commit a crime. The king just didn't want him dating his daughter.

iris09 | Student

He wasnt rich and also because he was dating the princess.

crystal-marie | Student

The young guy was being punished for having a secret relationship with the barbaric kings daughter for months.In an effort to stop his daughter from going below her part in life he had the man brought into the arena to choose his fate.

nikki210 | Student

The young man was thrown in to prison for being in love with the kings daugther.

lacibabyy00 | Student

The young man was being punished for having a secret relationship with the barbaric king daughter.

desireaaa | Student

He was in love with the barbaric kings daughter. When the king found out he was very mad so he punishes the young man.

pranks | Student

Because he loved the kings daughter.................

myriah | Student

The young man was being punished for having a secret relationship with the barbaric kings daughter.

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The Lady or the Tiger?

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