Language Arts 5-6 B
22 February 2018
The Fictional History of Choosing
“Your emotions are the slave to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.”
This quote was said by author Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book called Eat, Pray, Love. It’s not clear
as to why she said it, but regardless of that, this quote is absolutely true. We certainly see this in
the short story called the “Lady or the Tiger?” This narrative by Frank Stockton takes place in a
medieval time in which a barbaric king ruled the land. This ruler made a justice system in which
an accused person was set in front of two doors. The accused person would then pick between
the two. Behind one door stood a beautiful lady, while the other contained a starved tiger. This
system of pure luck chose the accused’s fate. Ultimately, if the charged person opened the door
with the beautiful lady, they were considered innocent, and immediately married to the woman
as a reward. But those who opened the door that held the tiger were considered guilty and paid
for their crimes by enduring through a painful death. In this short story, the daughter of the king
falls in love with a commoner. This person is then subjected to choosing between the two doors.
The princess knows what is behind each door, yet she is torn on what fate to give him. Our
emotions affect us, sometimes in minor ways, but more so in major ways. This story presents the
theme that we act based on our emotions, and that they often lead to consequences.
The princess suspected that that her lover loved the beautiful lady that would be set in
front of one of the doors. This in turn, as one would expect, left the princess a feeling of envy
toward the fine lady. In fact, it says, “...and the princess hated her”(136). The author uses inner
thinking to show the potential motivation the princess had for steering her lover to the door that
contained the tiger. The princess feels this way toward the maiden because she felt that the
maiden would be happy if she were married to her lover, and the princess wanted that. This
jealousy later develops when the princess is conflicted of choosing the fate of her lover. “Would
it not be better for him to die at once?” This goes to show that the princess is questioning herself.
The author uses The dilemma the princess faces causes her to make a choice that, later, she may
have regretted. The author uses problem/solution structure to offer evidence of what ending the
author may have intended for the story. Should she let him die? Or let him live with and love
someone else for the rest of his life? The emotion that the princess feels leads her to consider to
let him die, or to let him get married, both which are unhappy endings for her.
Not only did the princess feel jealous, she also felt love. Even though she thought that her
lover loved someone else, she still yearned for him. It says, “She loved him with an ardor that
had enough barbarism in it to make it exceedingly warm and strong” (133). The princess fell in
love with a subject, and he later met his fate. The author shows this to have readers show
empathy and sympathy toward the characters.
As the princess determines her lover’s fate, the emotions that affect her come into play through
this story. She takes those emotions, and there is a question as to what the consequence that her
lover gets. But one thing is certain, the princess chose to act on the emotions that she had,
whether the outcome was good or bad. She let her emotions overcome her, and she has to deal
with everything that comes after. Her actions were chosen by her emotions; the princess will
have to live with that for the rest of her life.