In Stockton's "The Lady, or the Tiger?" how does the king's arena determine guilt and innocence?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Stockton's "The Lady, or the Tiger?" the semi-barbaric king builds an arena which becomes the only justice system in his kingdom. Rather than hold a serious trial that gathers evidence and hears from witnesses, the king would rather hold an entertaining spectacle where the end result is based on the victim/criminal's decision, not the king's. Criminals are placed in the arena before the public masses and given two doors from which to choose. One door has a beautiful maiden behind it, which the man must marry immediately upon opening this door. Behind the other door is a vicious beast, probably a tiger, that will devour him upon being opened. If the criminal chooses the door behind which stands the young lady, he is considered innocent. On the other hand, if the criminal chooses the door which opens up to a tiger, then the man is considered guilty. According to the king's philosophy, chance determines the criminal's destiny based on which door he opens. Therefore, guilt and innocence are determined in the king's arena by luck, or chance. 

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The Lady or the Tiger?

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