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 is an example of foreshadowing in "The Lady, or the Tiger?"

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In "The Lady or the Tiger" by Frank Stockton, the idea that the princess, like her father, is "semi-barbaric" foreshadows her role in the decision about her lover. She may love him, but she also despises the lady who will become his wife if he should choose the door with the lady behind it. Since the princess is semi-barbaric, she will probably nod toward the door with the tiger behind it. However, if her suitor knows her well, he probably also knows of her semi-barbaric nature and will hopefully then choose the other door--the one the princess did not indicate. Then again, is the princess smart enough to realize her lover will pick the other, and might she just nod toward the lady's door in hopes he will pick the tiger?  We will never know, will we?  

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Foreshadowing is a literary device that gives a hint to the reader as to what might happen later in the story. In Stockton's "The Lady, or the Tiger?" one instance of foreshadowing is based on the king's character. In the beginning it says that the king is semi-barbaric and that whenever he didn't get his way, he didn't pull a fit or do anything emotionally charged, he simply tossed someone into his arena and let fate take care of the problem. In addition, the king believed that his method of justice in the arena was "impartial and incorruptible." These two words are used a few times to show how firm the king believed in this system. Not only that, but he strongly believed that the system was completely flawless because no one could influence the outcome of the victim's choice.

There are two points of foreshadowing here. First, the king's belief in his system of justice is so strong, that even when his daughter's lover is on the line, based on what is said earlier in the text, the reader knows that he won't grant him mercy for any reason--especially not for love. Second, the fact that the king believes his system is incorruptible is just begging to be challenged later on in the story--and it is. The princess finds a way to corrupt the system because she discovers which door the lady will stand behind. In an ironic twist of chance, the decision behind the lover's fate lies solely in the hands of the princess, not necessarily in the arena, and certainly not with the king.  

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