Why did the king think the princess' lover would be 'disposed of' whichever door he opened?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In "The Lady or the Tiger?" the king finds out that his beloved daughter is having an affair with a man who is only a commoner. The king has the young lover thrown in prison and has preparations made to subject him to a trial in which the youth must enter an arena and choose between two doors. Behind one is a ferocious and hungry tiger. Behind the other is a beautiful maiden who will become the young man's wife. The king doesn't care which door the young lover chooses because he will either be married to someone other than his daughter the princess or else will be torn to pieces by the tiger. So, as the storyteller says:

No matter how the affair turned out, the youth would be disposed of; and the king would take an aesthetic pleasure in watching the course of events, which would determine whether or not the young man had done wrong in allowing himself to love the prinicess.

The princess knows which door conceals the tiger. She makes a signal to her lover in the arena indicating that he should choose the door on the right. With complete trust, the young man opens that door. The story ends before the reader learns whetherthe lover was killed by the tiger or married to the beautiful maiden--but in either case the king would be disposed of the unacceptable suitor.

 

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