A literary term/technique that dominates Frank Stockton's "The Lady, or the Tiger?" is irony of situation and oxymoron. Clearly, there is a sharp contrast between the descriptions of characters and their actions and words, and the use of oxymoron in Stockton's phrasing. For instance, in the exposition of the story, the king is described as "semi-barbaric," a term which of itself is contradictory. Then, this king who has "perfect justice" is described as self-communing--"when he and himself agreed upon anything" it was done. Stockton continues his irony, narrating that when
every member of his domestic and political systems moved smoothly in its appointed course, his nature was bland and genial still, [but when]some of his orbs got out of their orbits, he was blander and genial still
as he punishes his subjects in his "barbaric idealism" [oxymoron] through the use of his vast ampitheatre that is
an agent of poetic justice in which crime was punished...by the decrees of an impartial and incorruptible chance
that is attended by the subjects who are "refined" and "cultured."
Some literary devices, which are defined by literary terms that permit discussion of small parts of a narrative, that occur in "The Lady, or the Tiger?" are setting, point of view, stock characters. The setting is according to fairy tale convention and is a kingdom with no time or location overtly specified. The point of view is that of a third person omniscient narrator: a narrator who is not a character in the story and who can see everything and know what every character is feeling and thinking and what every character's motives are, though perhaps not everything is told to the reader. Stock characters feature prominently in fairy tales.
"The Lady, or the Tiger?" includes the stock characters of the mean and hateful king; the beautiful princess who is as beautiful on the inside as on the outside; the lowly but handsome suitor whose goodness wins the princesses heart. One literary device is missing from "The Lady, or the Tiger?" This device is called a literary element because it is in theory common to all stories, as opposed to techniques like symbolism that authors pick and choose among. The literary element that is missing is the resolution. Since the reader is never informed by the narrator as to what lies behind the door, the story cannot reach its final end, called its resolution.
he use characterisation, symbolism and irony