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The king and the princess’s father is described as “semi-barbaric” (para 1), meaning he was only half a barbarian.
In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, and untrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. (para 1)
The king is passionate and sometimes violent. His daughter is the princess.
This semi-barbaric king had a daughter as blooming as his most florid fancies, and with a soul as fervent and imperious as his own. (para 9)
Since the princess has such a passionate soul, she is just like her father. It is this passion and arrogance that leads her to guide her lover to either the lady or the tiger, depending on what you think she picked.
[With] all the intensity of the savage blood transmitted to her through long lines of wholly barbaric ancestors, she hated the woman who blushed and trembled behind that silent door. (para 14)
Chances are, the “hot-blooded, semi-barbaric princess, her soul at a white heat beneath the combined fires of despair and jealousy” chose to send her lover to the tiger. She is so like her father!
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