What are the three major conflicts in the story "The Lady, or the Tiger?"

The three major types of conflict in "The Lady, or the Tiger?" are man versus man, man versus society, and man versus self. While the king serves as the story's antagonist and the forbidden relationship between the princess and the youth serves as an example of man versus society, the story's most vital conflict is internalized, existing within the mind of the princess herself.

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The main conflict of the story concerns the princess's difficult decision to spare her lover's life or lead him to certain death. Stockton's open ending revolves around the princess's internal conflict by challenging the reader to view the situation from her perspective. Although the princess loves the courtier, she is extremely jealous and cannot stand to see him happily married to another beautiful maiden. She is also described as semi-barbaric like her father and possesses the resolve needed to end her lover's life.

Another internal conflict concerns the courtier's decision to trust the princess's instructions and choose the door she suggests. The courtier is familiar with the princess's semi-barbaric nature and more than likely recognizes her intense jealousy. Faced with the most important decision of his life, the courtier must choose which door to open. Although he looks to the princess for guidance, he must recognize her true intentions and judge whether or not she is leading him toward certain death.

There are several external conflicts in the story, which include the conflict between the king and the lowly courtier as well as the courtier versus society. The king believes the courtier is not worthy of his daughter and puts him on trial for having a relationship with the princess. The courtier's relationship with the princess is forbidden because of the difference in their social classes. Tragically, he is sentenced to undergo the public trial and decide his fate by choosing one of the two doors.

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The three major types of conflict that shape storytelling are generally man versus man, man versus self, and man versus society. "The Lady, or the Tiger?" contains examples of all three types.

This story's use of man-versus-man conflict is centered around its king, who orders the youth to undergo this trial, with chance dictating whether he will be found guilty (and killed by the tiger) or found innocent (and married). The king is clearly the villain of the piece.

Meanwhile, the story's use of man versus society can be observed perhaps most strongly in the romance between the youth and the princess. They love one another intensely, but theirs is a forbidden relationship, one that must be pursued in secret, and as soon as it is discovered, the youth is forced into the trial.

The last, and (within the context of the story) most vital conflict is internalized, existing within the mind of the princess herself. As the story reveals to us, the princess has managed to discern which of the doors holds the tiger and which the lady, and she furthermore has the ability to signal to the youth which one he should pick. However, this raises the story's critical dilemma: is she is willing to save her beloved if it means giving him up? It is this internalized conflict, in which her love for the youth is weighed against her feelings of jealousy and resentment, that shapes the story's thematic architecture and the cliffhanger on which it ends.

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The major conflict in the story occurs inside the daughter of the king. Her beloved is being forced to undergo a barbaric "trial" in which he must pick a door in the arena and either be eaten by a tiger or married to a beautiful woman who is a rival to the princess.

This leads to the princess being torn between altruism and jealousy, which becomes the first conflict. The same powerful emotion of love that has driven her to find out what door the tiger is behind will lead her to anguish if her beloved dies but also to anguish if she has to watch him every day married to another woman. She has to decide if saving his life is worth the pain it will cost her.

Second, the story sets up a conflict between superstition and rationalism. The whole idea of setting up a system of reward and punishment based on "poetic justice"—the idea that the fates or providence will give out to people their just reward—is highly questionable, and the story invites us to debate the king's methods.

Third, the story—as Stockton intended—sets up the conflict inside of us as to what we would do if we were in the princess's position. All of us might think we would take the altruistic path, but often people serve self-interest. The story is a vehicle for exploring why we might or might not save the person in question.

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There are plenty of conflicts in this story.  The primary three are as follows:

1.  Man vs. man - King vs. Courtier.  If the king doesn't sentence his daughter's young lover to the arena, there is no story.

2.  Man vs. society - Courtier vs. this semi-barbaric justice system, a system controlled by uncontrollable fate.

3.  Man vs. self - In this case, woman vs. self.  The princess has a huge internal conflict once she's discovered the secret of the door.  Which door will she direct her young lover to, she wonders.  So do we, and that's what makes the story intriguing to us. 

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