Who finds the accused guilty, the king or the accused?In one part of the story it says "There was no escape from the king's arena," and in another it says "... for did not the accused person have...

Who finds the accused guilty, the king or the accused?

In one part of the story it says "There was no escape from the king's arena," and in another it says "... for did not the accused person have the whole matter in his own hands?"

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ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

"There was no escape from the king's arena," because the king decided who would be tried.  He did not deem the "prisoner" guilty or innocent.  He was described as being of a character that was "semi-barbaric."  When the king thought someone had done something wrong he sent them to the arena where the whole kingdom gathered to watch the accused choose between two doors.  One door held a tiger which would tear the guilty party to shreds.  Another door held a beautiful woman and the accused would be "rewarded" with an instant marriage.

Your other quote "for did not the accused person have the whole matter in his own hands?" is what the King tells himself and his kingdom to justify his arbitrary method of judgement. 

As you look closely at the story you can see that it is neither the accused nor the king that judges guilt or innocence, it is fate.  No more, no less than a "flip of a coin."  The only difference is the king uses doors of fate.

"The "semi-barbaric" king has set up the arena in such a way that the prisoner's choice will determine his fate, regardless of his guilt or innocence. This element of choice absolves the king from any responsibility in the situation and intrigues the audience, who eagerly anticipates the prisoner's fate. Not knowing whether they will witness a bloody spectacle or a wedding puts them in a state of suspense. Because the young man is allowed to make his own choice, all others are absolved of guilt."

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Chance is the judge of the accused in "The Lady or the Tiger?"  The king employs the public arena where he feeds his "exuberant and barbaric fancy."  In this amphitheater

was an agent of poetic justice, in which crime was punished, or virtue rewarded, by the decrees of an impartial and incorruptible chance.

When a subject is accused of a crime of "sufficient importance to interest the king," this person is forced into the arena where he has the choice of his fate.  That is, the person points to one of two identical doors.  The prisoner must choose; thus, it is pure chance which one holds the fate of this prisoner.  If a hungry tiger emerges from the door, it tears the person to pieces as "punishment for his guilt."  However, if a fair lady emerges, he is immediately married to her "as a reward of his innocence." 

Thus, Chance is the "poetic justice" of the king.  The prisoner has "the whole matter in his own hands" in the sense only that he is the one to choose the doors. This statement of course, is ironic since the choice is so limited:  Death or marriage to someone he does not know.

 

yairett's profile pic

yairett | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

the king all crazi

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