"The Lady or the Tiger" by Frank Stockton is a unique story to read with students. With an ambiguous ending, students get a chance to use their detective skills to decide the man's fate. Did the princess send her lover to his death, or did she swallow her jealousy and send him to another woman? Students also get to practice their creative writing skills by finishing the resolution; this often produces considerable insight to the type of students I have in my class. Will they kill the handsome young man? Spare him? Create a paradoxical surprise ending? The choice is up to the reader!
"The Lady or the Tiger" is a short story without resolution. Set in a kingdom ruled by a semi-barbaric king, the story centers around the king’s approach to justice. Any subject who commits a crime of sufficient interest is summoned to the royal arena where they choose their fate by picking between two doors. Behind one door is a fierce tiger that will eat the person alive, and behind the other door is a fair maiden to whom they will be married at once; the fate of the individual is determined by chance.
One day, the king finds out that his daughter has fallen in love with a brave, sincere young man. However, he is not of royal birth. Enraged by this, the king summons him to the arena to determine his fate. Meanwhile, the princess uses her guile and bribery to gain knowledge of the doors' arrangement and that the woman behind the one door has previously aroused jealousy in the princess. Knowing this information, the princess signals for her lover to open the door to the right. Then the story ends, and the author asks the readers to decide what fate the princess chose for her lover.