What is the summary of "The Lady, or the Tiger"?

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jamesk8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Lady, or the Tiger" begins with a description of a semi-barbaric king who punishes criminals in a unique way.  He has built an arena featuring two doors and the criminal must choose his own fate by selecting one of the two doors.  Behind one door is a hungry tiger that will eat the prisoner alive and behind the other door is a beautiful lady who will be married to the accused on the spot.  The people in the kingdom are very entertained by this.

The king has a beautiful daughter who secretly loves a young man who is a commoner.  The king does not think the young man is good enough for his daughter so he sentences the young man to be put into the arena to choose a door.

The princess loves the young man and does not want to lose him to the ravenous tiger or to another woman in marriage.  The princess knows which fate is behind each door and she also knows who the woman is going to be behind the door.  She hates this woman.

In the arena that day, the young man looks at the princess, expecting her to know which door hides what fate.  The princess makes a motion toward the right-hand door, and this is the door her lover opens.  The story stops exactly at the point he opens the door.  It does not tell his fate.