What can a reader learn from reading the story "The Lady or the Tiger?"    

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By holding back the climax and thus the resolution to his story, and leaving those elements to the reader, Frank Stockton teaches that the world is complicated and there is not always a black or white solution to any problem.

The king believes justice should be simple. The accused has the choice of his guilt or innocence. Either he opens the door with the tiger and is guilty, or he opens the door with the lady and is innocent. This system's simplicity and perfect fairness make it a popular institution in the kingdom.

The king's daughter, however, complicates the issue by discovering the secret of the doors before her lover even enters the arena. Just at the point when he has chosen the door on the right, Stockton stops his narration and becomes philosophical. He leaves it up to the reader to decide what the lover found behind the door which is chosen for him by the princess. He does give us some hints. On one hand, the princess is very much in love and satisfied with her lover. But on the other hand, she is terribly jealous of the woman behind one of the doors.

This story, which on the surface seems so simple, becomes quite complicated in the end. What will the princess do? In figuring this dilemma, Stockton wants to illustrate that the world is messy, often mired in the petty emotions of arrogance and jealousy. There is both good and evil in the world as well. The princess could go either way. Human beings face these types of dilemmas every day. Do they give in to their baser nature, or do they do things based on love?

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The Lady or the Tiger?

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