The Lady, or the Tiger
The Lady, or the Tiger?

The Lady, or the Tiger? - Study Guide

Talk about a no-win situation: Frank Stockton's The Lady, or the Tiger? (1882) is a fairy tale and fascinating allegory. We hope our study guide is particularly useful for teachers and students to fully appreciate the story's quandary and its themes. It's a great persuasive writing prompt.

Read the story: The Lady, or the Tiger?, Character Analysis & Summary, Genre & Themes, Literary Devices, Quotes, Discussion Questions, Paired Readings, Useful Links, and Notes/Teacher Comments

Character Analysis & Summary

The Lady, or the Tiger? Study Guide: The Lady
The Lady

Genre & Themes



The Lady, or the Tiger? Study Guide: Alfred Edmund Brehm, 1895
The Tiger

Literary Devices & Vocabulary

Literary Devices

Interesting Vocabulary

The Lady, or the Tiger? Study Guide: Frank Stockton
Frank Stockton


Explain what the following quotes mean and how they relate to the story:

The Lady, or the Tiger? Study Guide: Book cover, 1884
First edition cover, 1884

Discussion Questions

1. Explain the meaning of "semi-barbaric" and why it's a perfect adjective to describe both the King and the Princess. How can someone be half cruel, brutal and uncivilized, and half not?

2. Stockton begs the question: "Which came out of the opened door,--the lady, or the tiger?" Write a persuasive argument for which choice the Princess ended up making, and why.

3. Explain why this situation poses an unsolvable problem.

4. Determinism versus Free Will is one of the story's themes. Explain both concepts as revealed in this tale."

5. Think of this tale from the young man's point of view, if he could choose. If he was a Romantic, might he die rather than lose his true love? Or, is he a Realist, settling for survival with a fair maiden? Sure beats being dead.

6. Using the literary device of allegory, the story has two layers of meaning. Explain each layer and what the symbols represent.

7. Relate the concept of "fate" to a situation in your own life where a "choice" wasn't really up to you. Have you ever had to make a "lady or the tiger?" decision?

8. Read the sequel to this story, The Discourager of Hesitancy, and compare the King's "choice" offered to a visiting prince requesting a wife, with the young man's in this story.

9. Think of a story, book, or movie in which the ending was withheld, leaving the reader or audience to determine the ending, or guessing what happens next. (Can't think of one? Try the Harry Potter series). Discuss why this is an appealing technique to keep us coming back for more?

The Lady, or the Tiger? sequel, The Discourager of Hesitancy
The Discourager of Hesitancy

Paired Reading Suggestions

Compare The Lady, or the Tiger? themes and literary devices to these stories:

The Lady, or the Tiger? Study Guide, Barbarism and Civilization
Barbarian or Civilized?

Teacher Resources
A Teacher's Work Is Never Done

Notes/Teacher Comments

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