two doorways with an elegant woman standing in one and a large tiger head in the other

The Lady, or the Tiger?

by Francis Richard Stockton

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What are the eight points of rising action in "The Lady, or the Tiger?"

Expert Answers

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The rising action of a story is the events leading up to the most interesting point.  In this story, the rising action is every event leading up to the fateful opening of the door.

  1. The king builds an arena, “an agent of poetic justice,” where the accused will either be eaten by a tiger or marry a maiden, depending on which door he chooses.  This is important because the area will become a key plot point in the climax.
  2. The method of administering justice becomes very popular, and “they never knew whether they were to witness a bloody slaughter or a hilarious wedding.”
  3. The king has a daughter “as blooming as his most florid fancies, and with a soul as fervent and imperious as his own.”  She is high-spirited and semi-barbaric as well.
  4. The princess falls in love with one of the king’s courtiers, who has both “fineness of blood and lowness of station,” making him not fit for the king’s daughter.
  5. The king finds out about the affair.
  6. The youth is arrested.
  7. The king’s men look for the most savage tiger and the most beautiful maiden.
  8. The princess finds out which door holds which.  What will she tell him?

Of course, this story has an ambiguous ending.  Which door did she point him toward?  Your response tells you something about yourself, and what you think about human nature.

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