Identify verbal irony in Stockton's "The Lady or the Tiger?" 

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Verbal irony in Stockton's "The Lady or the Tiger?" can best be identified by understanding what verbal irony is.

Verbal irony...is a trope in which a speaker makes a statement in which its actual meaning differs sharply from the meaning that the words ostensibly express. 

In the story, it is ironic that the king is semi-barbaric and allegedly presents a method of justice. What makes a person barbaric is the essence of his or her inability to behave in a civilized way—which is necessary for administering justice, as opposed instead to exercising one’s will based upon perceptions rather than facts. The king is not interested facts:

He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts.

His desires are not based upon facts, but upon his power to convince others that his “fancies” are “facts.” 

In this kingdom…

…the minds of his subjects were refined and cultured…

This is ironic, for how refined and...

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