With an ironic tone, Frank R. Stockton narrates his "The Lady or the Tiger?" This tone is used by Stockton to describe his unpleasant "semibarbaric king," thus forcing readers to realize how bad the king really is. For instance, Stockton writes,
Among his borrowed notion was that of the public arena, in which, by exhibitions of manly and beastly valor, the minds of his subjects were refined and cultured.
But, the reader learns the the "refining" of the minds of the subjects comes from the death of the accused by a fierce tiger, or as the narrator states, "by the decrees of an impartial and incorruptible chance."
These two adjectives seem key ones for Stockton's use of irony since the lover of the king's daughter is placed before the two doors in the arena where he is given the opportunity to choose a door. After he selects a door, the judgment upon the young man will be "impartial" as it is only by a guess that the man chooses which door will prevent his death by the tiger and effect his marriage to a beautiful maiden instead. Of course, the results are not impartial as, if the prisoner lives, he is forced to marry someone he does not know. The "chance" that is involved in this choice is described as "incorruptible" because no one is supposed to know what is behind the doors. However, when the lover is in the arena as a prisoner, he looks at the princess and "the moment he looked upon her, he saw she had succeeded [in "discovering this mystery"].
Clearly, the king's system is anything but "poetic justice" as Stockton ironically states.