What is the plot of "The Lady or the Tiger" by Stockton?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The plot of the story begins with a description of a king who constructed an arena where crime and virtue were punished and rewarded purely on chance. In the arena, the accused was expected to choose between two doors, which presented different fates. A marauding tiger was behind one of the doors and a lady behind the other. Selection of the door with the tiger led to death, while the door with the lady was followed by a wedding ceremony.  As the story unfolds, the king’s daughter and one of the palace’s courtiers fell in love and soon the king discovered the affair. The young man was thrown into prison to await his fate in the arena. The princess learned what each door presented. In addition, she knew the lady behind the door and suspected that she had feelings for the courtier. The princess was forced to decide whether to allow the youth to marry the lady or face the tiger. In the arena, the princess signaled the youth to open the door on the right after they exchanged glances. The plot ends after the youth opens the door on the right and the reader is left in suspense, not knowing what came forth.