In "The Lady or the Tiger?" what was the king's method of trying accused criminals?
In Stockton's "The Lady or the Tiger?" the king is characterized as semi-barbaric. This means that he is somewhat civilized, but adheres to a barbaric way of life as well. As a result, his judicial system is based less on fairness and facts and more on violence and chance. There is no jury and no consideration of evidence or testimony. There is only the arena.
The arena is where any "criminal," as decided by the king himself, sends everyone—no matter how simple or complex the crime. When a subject enters the arena, he must choose one of two doors and take his chance as to whether he will be killed by a vicious tiger, or open the door behind which is a young lady whom he must marry and live with for the rest of his days. The king believes that this system is the best way to conduct justice for the following reasons:
"This vast amphitheater, with its encircling galleries, its mysterious vaults, and its unseen passages, was an agent of poetic justice, in which crime was punished, or virtue rewarded, by the decrees of an impartial and incorruptible chance."
Therefore, anyone thrown into the arena is at the mercy of chance. If he chooses the lady, he may live, but he must marry the girl. If he chooses the door with the tiger behind it, he will surely die.
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