In the story “The Lady or the Tiger”, the narrator says that the king “was greatly given to self-communing.” What does this say about the way he rules?

Expert Answers
mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The semi-barbaric king of a mythical land in Frank Stockton's short story "The Lady or the Tiger" is, quite simply, a despot, a ruler with total power who often uses it unfairly. The king rules in a completely undemocratic fashion, seemingly ignoring any input from advisors. Once he has made up his mind, there is no arguing against him. His decisions are based only on his judgement and are final: 

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 anything, the thing was done.

By "self communing" the king has only one adviser, and that is himself. That his laws and decrees could be considered unfair would never occur to him.

His plan for justice in the arena is a perfect example of his despotism. That this is cruel and not even close to being fair, is lost on the king. His justice could cause an innocent man to be brutally killed by a "hungry tiger," or, on the other hand, a guilty man to get away free and even be married to a lady, "suitable to his years and station."

Read the study guide:
The Lady or the Tiger?

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question