In the short story "The Lady, or the Tiger?" by Francis Richard Stockton , a barbaric king devises a cruel form of judgment based on random chance. The accused person is put into an arena with two doors. Behind one door is a ravenous tiger, and behind the other a...
lovely lady. The person's guilt or innocence is determined by the choice he makes and whether he lives or dies.
The plot centers on a courtier who presumes to have an affair with the princess. After months of intrigue, the king finds out and sentences the courtier to the arena. We see, then, that the first major conflict is between the king and the courtier. The courtier has "dared to love the daughter of a king," and the king determines that he must be judged for this crime.
The princess who loves the courtier determines to find out who the lady behind the door will be and also which door the lady will be behind. It turns out that the lady the king has selected is someone who has been flirting with the courtier, and for this reason, the princess hates her. The second major conflict, therefore, is between the princess and the chosen lady.
The third major conflict has to do with the choice that the courtier makes. This is a conflict that involves several elements. We could say that it is a conflict between the courtier and the princess, because their love is being tested. We could say it is a conflict within the mind of the princess, because she has to decide whether to spare the life of her lover by allowing him to marry another lovely lady or to give in to her jealousy and let the tiger tear her lover apart. We could also say that it is a conflict within the mind of the courtier, because he has to decide whether to trust his lover or not.
This overriding conflict also exists in the minds of the readers, because the author never resolves it, choosing instead to end the story with the question, "Which came out of the open door—the lady or the tiger?"