The Princess’s Decision in “The Lady, or the Tiger?” In Frank Stockton’s “The Lady, or the Tiger?” the philosophical debate surrounding love and jealousy arises. This occurs through the decision of a young, barbaric princess. In her father’s kingdom, trials occur through the convicted people choosing between two doors. Though previously unheard of, the princess discovers what lays behind each door. She must decide the fate of her lover, a beautiful young man who committed no crime but loving the daughter of the king.
Two options lay behind the doors, the man’s gruesome death at the hands of a fierce tiger, or his marriage to another woman who the princess despises. For her, neither of these decisions will lead to a satisfactory ending. However, without a shadow of doubt, the princess chose the lady. First off, an erroneous argument may present that the princess chose the tiger due to her barbaric nature.
One could argue that this barbarism would cause her to choose the tiger out of hatred for the “blushing lady” behind the door. In reality, the nature of the princess furthers the argument that she chose the lady. Since the princess has a “semi-barbaric” nature and not a fully barbaric nature, she certainly has a soft side.
Furthermore, this soft side surely loves her partner completely. The princess’s love has “enough of barbarism in it to make it exceedingly warm and strong,” suggesting that her barbarism does not fuel her hatred but elevates the intensity of her love. Therefore, her nature would not cause her to choose the tiger, but the lady. Additionally, jealousy does not express as much influence as love. The princess, as a barbaric being, experiences raw emotion above all else. Jealousy cowers in the face of love. Love has the potential to heal and hurt like nothing else, and without loving the man in the first place, the princess would have never felt jealousy towards the lady. Besides, a strong, barbaric woman will not allow the petty emotion of jealousy to overshadow the great emotion of love. She, with all her barbarism, chose the lady. Moreover, the princess clearly chose the lady due to the time she spent considering both options. She knows that she would find what was behind each door from the beginning, so the majority of her thoughts surround her decision. When the princess considers sending her lover to the tiger, she can only think of the “shrieks” and “blood” that will ensue.
On the other hand, she thinks of the lady “much oftener,” considering the consequences thoroughly. When making a decision, most tend to decide upon the option they have thought more about. The princess thinking about the lady so often conveys her coming to terms with her future. She knows that it cannot result in happiness for her, but at least her lover could be happy. Thinking of the tiger brought immediate pain; she did not subject her one true love to a gruesome death. Furthermore, she does not make her decision on a whim, but deeply considers and decides upon it beforehand. She made her choice “after days and nights of anguished deliberation,” yet signaled her lover “without the slightest hesitation.” If the princess thought long and hard about her choice, she absolutely would not allow momentary jealousy to get in the way and influence her decision, which was of course to allow her love to survive, even at the expense of her own happiness.
Lastly, the princess must have chosen the lady because in the future, men daring to love princesses “became commonplace.” If the princess had chosen the tiger and subjected her lover to a horrendous death, it would not have become so “commonplace.” At this point, loving the princess was “novel and startling.” Therefore, the word about the trial spread to people “far and near,” and many cared about the fate of the beautiful young man who the princess loved. If the princess’s lover died a violent death, the word would spread, and nobody would ever dare to love a princess again out of fear. On the other hand, if the princess’s lover survived, it would give the people no reason to fear following his path. This could make it much more likely to become commonplace.
In addition, the princess has a very determined nature. This means that she could have possibly found a way to have a relationship of some kind with her lover later in life. The same fierce determination that allowed her to discover what lay behind the doors could allow her to find a way, so her lover marrying another woman would not necessarily mean an end to their relationship. Evidently, their relationship could have paved the way for similar relationships occurring in the future, something that would not have transpired if she chose the tiger.
In conclusion, the princess chose the lady for a myriad of reasons. For one, her semi-barbaric nature amplified her intense love, making her unable to sentence her lover to death. furthermore, the princess spent longer considering the option of the lady, prompting her to choose it. Last, since people loving princesses later became commonplace, she must have allowed her true love to live, and chosen the lady. Overall, love overpowers hate. No matter how much the princess hated the woman her lover was going to marry if she chose the lady, it could never compare to the heart-wrenching pain of condemning the one she loves to death would cause. Thus, the princess chose the lady, without a hint of uncertainty.
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