In Stockton's "The Lady or the Tiger," if a person chooses the door with the lady maiden behind it, what happens immediately afterwards?
In Stockton's "The Lady or the Tiger," the question of the innocence or guilt of one accused of a crime had nothing to do with justice, but by mere chance.
When someone was accused of a crime, the people were assembled and the "semi-barbaric" king looked on. Facts were not presented. The king only used this form of judgment with cases he had personally taken a fancy to. Choosing the door was the only option the accused had. He could be innocent and choose the door with the tiger (which saddened the crowd) or be guilty and pick the door with the beautiful woman. The people never knew there was going to be a slaughter or a marital celebration.
However, if the accused chose the door from which appeared a beautiful maiden, immediately the man's fate was decided.
...if the accused person opened the other door, there came forth from it a lady, the most suitable to his years and station that his majesty could select among his fair subjects, and to this lady he was immediately married, as a reward of his innocence. It mattered not that he might already possess a wife and family, or that his affections might be engaged upon an object of his own selection; the king allowed no such subordinate arrangements to interfere with his great scheme of retribution and reward.
So, regardless of a man's guilt or innocence, the chance of survival or death was based on a fifty-fifty chance. With two doors to choose from, the man accused needed only to open the door to discover what his fate would be. The king was perhaps popular for providing such entertainment, but he was certainly not a just ruler.
check Approved by eNotes Editorial