What is rebellion in "The Lady or the Tiger?"  

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Several examples of rebellion occur throughout the story.  The two most central forms of rebellion occur in the princess' illicit love affair and her choice to discover the secret of the doors. 

The narrator remarks that "of course, everybody knew that the deed with which the accused was charged had been done.  He had loved the princess, and neither he, she nor any one else thought of denying the fact."  The princess' first act of rebellion against her father was in choosing a suitor below her exalted station; she had chosen for herself a courtier of "lowness of station;" in this way, she exerts her independence from her semi-barbaric father and king. 

Another act of rebellion committed by the king's daughter occurs when she uncovers the secret of the two doors:

"Possessed of more power, influence, and force of character than any one who had ever before been interested in such a case, she had done what no other person had done--she had possessed herself of the secret of the doors."

The princess' act of discovering the secret of the doors is her way of rebelling against her father's command; she covertly usurps his authority, and through her actions, she gives herself the power to determine her lover's fate.  The king's arena had been created to be an impartial determinant of fate, and the princess deliberately thwarts her father's device by signalling her lover in the arena and helping him choose a door. 

"The Lady or the Tiger" is in many ways a battle of wills, an untold struggle between the "hot-blooded" princess and her father; her father would dictate her fate, and she, in turn, challenges him by choosing her own preferred lover and then influencing his destiny in the arena by cheating the system of the doors. 

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The Lady or the Tiger?

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