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 the king's system of punishment in "The Lady, or the Tiger?"

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In this story, the king uses what the narrator calls "poetic justice," meting out justice in a large ampitheater he had built for that very purpose. The accused is taken into the ampitheater and before a great crowd has to choose between two doors. Out of one will come a hungry tiger, who will devour the man. In this case, the man is considered guilty of the crime to which he had been accused. If the man selects the other door, a woman will come out, chosen to be as perfect as possible a mate for the man. If the man picks this door, he is considered innocent and would be expected to marry the woman who emerges, even if he already had a wife.

As we know, the daughter of the king has it in her power to signal to her lover which door to pick.

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