Which door did the lover of the princess open in "The Lady, or the Tiger"?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Stockton purposely leaves this question unanswered at the end of the story as the young courtier receives the signal from the princess and walks towards the two doors that determine his fate. The answer is completely subjective and relies upon how the reader perceives the princess. The princess shares similar character traits with her father and is described as being semi-barbaric and hot-blooded. Despite being in love with the handsome courtier, she is also full of jealousy and despair when she discovers that he is attracted to his potential suitor. The reader's perception of human nature also plays a significant role in the conclusion of the story. If the reader feels that humans are inherently savage and hostile, they would more than likely believe that the princess condemned the courtier to death. However, if one believes that humans are intrinsically kind, compassionate beings, they would probably assume that the princess allowed the courtier to marry the attractive maiden. Personally, I believe the princess instructed the courtier to pick the door with the tiger behind it because of her jealous, vengeful nature.

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brandih eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This question has been asked and answered multiple times.  Please see the links below for more answers, and thank you for using eNotes.

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Nobody knows for sure, and we will never know! Isn't that maddening? The surprise, unresolved ending of the story has engendered many conversations about what the young man found behind the door. Did the princess love him enough to save his life by giving him up to another woman, or was she jealous and completely selfish? Would she rather see him dead than married to a beautiful woman whom she despised? The young man's fate depends on how the reader views the princess, in particular, and human nature, in general.



suvratnam2012 | Student

Although the author doesn't explicitly answer this question, there is more evidence to support the tiger emerging. The princess is portayed as somewhat barbaric, jealous, and possesive.

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