I need help with an essay on the consequences of choices using these two short stories: "The Lady or the Tiger?" by Frank Stockton and "The Tell-Tale Story" by Edgar Allan Poe. Essay needs to be at...

I need help with an essay on the consequences of choices using these two short stories: "The Lady or the Tiger?" by Frank Stockton and "The Tell-Tale Story" by Edgar Allan Poe. Essay needs to be at least 750 words.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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[While Enotes educators do not compose essays, we gladly offer suggestions.]

  • In Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" the key to the question about the results of people's decisions lies in the title: the heart will inform on the person. The narrator is both irrational and delusional in his perceptions as he boasts of loving the old man, then turning around and murdering the man because of the "evil eye." [You can elaborate here]
  • Here, then, the writer will want to trace the narrator's attempts to argue that he is not insane, but he descends into madness as he is tortured by his psychological obsession with the eye--"the uncontrollable terror." Then, too, there is something sinister in the heart of man which cannot be explained rationally. For, the narrator describes his murder.
  • Interestingly, "Poe's interest is not in evil in the theological sense but as a species of psychological obsession."
  • And, yet, he feels guilty afterwards and pays the consequences of this guilt as his beating heart tells on him, and he confesses in order to relieve the torment he endures.

Frank R. Stockton's "The Lady, or the Tiger?" presents situations in which choices are made, but the story has the added dimension of the satire of the barbaric king who "refines" the minds of his subjects with the public exhibitions" in the arena with his "decrees of an impartial and incorruptible chance." Within this capricious environment of the semi-barbaric king, the princess and her young man are found out and the young man is to be "disposed of" in the arena where he must choose a door and will be either eaten by a tiger, or married to a young woman. The consequences of his choice to love the princess is to lose her regardless of what happens to him, and, possibly, to lose his own life, as well. No matter which way he loses, the king will derive pleasure from his loss. 

The princess has also made her choice, and must lose her lover regardless of the door he selects.

Had it not been for the barbarism in her nature, it is probable that the lady would not have been there.

But, at the arena, she is possessive of another chance to make a choice: she can indicate to her lover the door to choose in order to save his life. Still, she is ambivalent about whether she wants to lose her lover to another to whom he will be married. However, she does know behind which door the maiden stands. When she moves her hand slightly, the young man knows that she points to the door on the right. Clearly, passions have reigned over reason in these decisions.

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