two doorways with an elegant woman standing in one and a large tiger head in the other

The Lady, or the Tiger?

by Francis Richard Stockton
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What are the bells that sound in the trial of the arena in the short story "The Lady, or the Tiger?"

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The "trial of the arena" is the king's idea of justice in Frank Stockton's short story "The Lady or the Tiger?". The king is described as "semi-barbaric" and his rule of law is based on the luck and fate of the accused. If a man stands trial for a crime,...

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The "trial of the arena" is the king's idea of justice in Frank Stockton's short story "The Lady or the Tiger?". The king is described as "semi-barbaric" and his rule of law is based on the luck and fate of the accused. If a man stands trial for a crime, he is led into a large amphitheater where his innocence or guilt is proven by his choice of doors. Behind one door is a ferocious tiger, which promptly springs upon the victim and tears him to pieces. Behind the other door is a lady, "the most suitable to his years and station" who could be found in the kingdom. The institution was "popular" with the subjects of the kingdom and they came from near and far to witness the spectacle.

If the accused was lucky enough to choose the door behind which stood the lady, he was immediately married to the woman. Another door would open and out would march a priest followed by singers and dancers who would help celebrate the occasion. Stockton describes the scene where brass bells are rung and everyone rejoices:

Then the gay brass bells rang forth their merry peals, the people shouted glad hurrahs, and the innocent man, preceded by children strewing flowers on his path, led his bride to his home.

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