How would you describe the message of "The Lady, or the Tiger?"

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I think this story has a lot to say about the importance of choice and the consequences that result from that choice. Consider the "beauty" of the arena that the king has created: the prisoner's choice is the one that will decide his destiny, not the king's choice for him. He will either perish by getting killed and eaten by a ferocious tiger, or he will instantly marry an enchanting maiden. This "choice" that the condemned person must make absolves the king from any kind of responsibility and simultaneously...

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diaphanousflyer | Student

In my opinion, I think the characters are all unimportant to the message developed by the short story. This can be seen when how the characters are developed are examined. They are all sketched in very quickly by building on conventions, and their descriptions rely on hyperbole and absolutes. Ones such as, "As is usual in such cases, she was the apple of his eye, and was loved by him above all humanity. Among his courtiers was a young man of that fineness of blood and lowness of station common to the conventional heroes of romance who love royal maidens." Note that the narrator draws on many conventions and makes many assumptions; this has the effect of quickly sketching them in just so that they could serve a plot function. Something else to consider is the setting. It is similarly quickly sketched in and is similarly described using hyperboles and absolutes. This can be seen when the narrator describes the tiger as the cruelest and the maiden as the fairest. The question comes then, what is the most important part of this short story? This is bluntly explained by the narrator right after the climax, where it is revealed that the point of the story is whether the tiger came out or the lady. However, I do not think that is the question the audience should and would dwell on. Rather, it is whether had they been put in the position of the princess, would they motion to the tiger or the lady. This story presents a dilemma, where one has to choice between two equally undesirable choices. These two choices ultimately reflect on two key human emotions; despair and jealousy. The message in my opinion, to the audience is a question of human nature; whether despair or jealousy dominates one's mind. This would be how I would describe one of, if not the most important, messages presented in this short story.


Sources would include ELA 10, thank you Miss Groen.

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