The lady or the tiger? Do you agree or do you think that Stockton left more evidence to suggest that she chose to let him live? Do you think he gave equal amounts of evidence in either direction? What would you choose?
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I think part of the reason why this story has been just so successful at producing the kind of reactions you refer to is precisely because it offers equal amounts of evidence for both sides, and denies us an easy resolution. Ambiguity is the secret of the success of this story, and it is clear that the author has been incredibly successful in precisely this.
Interestingly, there have been studies done in which students have to complet an ending to a given story. The percentages show that the majority of students wrote an ending that puts them into the classification of Romanticists, rather than Realists, or Naturalists.
Perhaps, the conditioning of the children's books that always have the postivie ending has caused this, or our need for something cheerful (During the Great Depression, many, many people frequented the movies). At any rate, it is difficult to move students to the understanding that literature is viable and worthy when an ending is tragic since life itself is tragic--does not everyone die?
Of course, there are always the sadistic who want blood and gore, so there will be certain horrific endings in "Poesque" fashion for "The Lady, or the Tiger?" Still, if the students will reread closely the story and in two columns list the descriptions and instances in which the princess is "semi-barbaric" as opposed to typically feminine, they will find an argument for the semi-barbaric side of the princess. One strong one is the fact whichever door the lover chooses will take him out of her life forever. The challenge is there for them; however, there is much evidence for the barbaric side of the princess. And, she is her father's daughter, too.
Despite all the discussion we would have, my classes were usually divided in their outcomes, with the majority of girls taking the happier ending. Some had the lover running away from the maiden and secretly meeting the princess; then, they escaped the country and lived happily ever after.
It's so easy for you and me to do the sensible thing and choose life over death. We forget, though, that this is a semi-barbaric princess who is willing to break the rules to get what she wants (which she does by having this lover and by finding the secret of the doors). Her emotions, like her actions, are somehow exaggerated. The evidence of that is her torment at having to choose. For most of us, this would not be a difficult choice at all. For her, it's an awful decision. Because of that, it could have been either the lady or the tiger.
I do not think the real question is whether the lady or the tiger will come out; it is not a real question of the princess' character, rather it is more of a question of the reader's character. This is said because the princess is a flat and stock character, and as I explained previously in an answer to a question, she is sketched in quickly by building on conventions and her description relies on hyperbole and absolutes. This suggests that she is ultimately not important to the message or the theme of the story. Every other part of the story also are solely there to set up the dilemma, and the narrator presents the dilemma to the reader. Which would strongly suggest that the point is to question whether we, the readers, would pick the lady or the tiger, and is a question of whether we are dominated by jealousy or despair.
Hello! I think that if the princess really loves him, she will let him go -get marry with that girl. Each of us would be jealous, but it doesn't mean that would let him die....
For keeping him alive, we will do everything -even that it means that he will marry with the other woman.... Even if it happens that, he, loving her a lot, wouldn't fall in love with the other woman...
That is what I think.
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