"The Lady, or the Tiger?" begins with a fanciful tone. It opens with "In the very olden time," which whispers of the familiar beginning of fairy tales, "Once upon a time." One way you could develop a comparative essay would be to examine how this tale is similar to and differs from a typical fairy tale. A thesis for this topic might look something like the following:
While "The Lady, or the Tiger?" is reminiscent of a fairy tale through its setting and characterization, the ending sharply deviates from that of a traditional fairy tale.
You could then examine the way the story begins in a setting that is constructed in the distant past, which is true of many fairy tales. The setting also centers around the castle, which is a common characteristic of fairy tales. The characters consist of a king; his daughter, the princess; and a courtier who falls in love with the princess. Yet in the conflict, the story loses its magical mood. The princess has the power to send her lover to his death, and she seems to weigh this possibility. She is jealous, having noticed the way he looks at the beautiful young maiden who appears behind the other door, and detests the idea of allowing her beloved to be married to this maiden whom she hates. As the story ends, there is no happily-ever-after ending; the reader isn't sure whether the young man will live or die.
You could also examine the way the princess is similar to the tiger itself. A thesis for this topic might look something like this:
The princess and the tiger both represent a power which the young courtier lacks, yet only the princess has the ability to influence her lover's final decision.
In this paper, you could examine the ultimate powerlessness of the young man. Although he has chosen to engage in a relationship with the princess, everything that follows is out of his control. The princess does not seem to be in danger herself; as royalty, she sits in a position of power that may exempt her from punishment from her father. The young man looks to her because he trusts her; however, it is clear that her own feelings are more complex than he believes. She hates the thought of him entering into a new relationship with the beautiful maiden, and it isn't certain that she will save him. The tiger has the power, if unleashed, to end the young man's life. The circumstances have been constructed in such a way that the young man's own power is eliminated.
Ultimately, however, even the tiger cannot be unleashed unless the princess signals for the courtier to choose its door. Therefore, while the tiger has the brute strength to kill the man, it is the princess's decision whether to save him or kill him that makes her the most powerful creature in this arena.