Essay on Stockton Frank’s the Lady or the Tiger

Published: 2021/11/04
Number of words: 1125

Royal leaders of the barbaric age have been described as having unquestionable abilities that their subjects lacked. Such leaders were powerful and were ordained by God to rule since they were described as having royal blood run through them. As a leader, the king was charged with different responsibilities like making decisions during cases (Laks and Schofield, 15). The leader did not just make an ordinary decision but rather the choice was based on ordainment bestowed in the crown. This means that the king had the right to order death or keep life of an individual found guilty or innocent (Stockton, 5). A lot literature has been written on such ties and how the leaders had intellectually smart ways of administering justice to the victim in a way that satisfied the public. One thing that was common among all such traditions was that justice was served in a public arena where the public witnessed and gave consent. The Lady, or the Tiger?’ by Frank R. Stockton is a story that gives an account of how such decisions were made by the leader.

The story is told of a king in old times who had a sophisticated barbaric way of administering justice to his subjects. The barbaric and semifixed way of the arena was cultured in the subjects who became used to the role that it played in widening and developing mental energies of the people. The design of the arena and its vaults was a poetic way that defined the wat justice was administered. There were different vaults that satisfied the public as giving an impartial and incorruptible way to justice (Stockton, 4). Here justice to the guilty was served through being exposed to the devouring tiger or a fine lady who was married to the innocent person. The king used two doors that were the same and built side to side for administering justice. Once the case of the accused has been decided, bells rang and wails from hired mourners went into the air to define both celebration and death. Stockton (9) adds that the accused was supposed to open any of the doors based on his own instincts as a way of administering justice to himself. This meant that either the tiger or the fine lady will come out. As this happened, the heads of people in the arena bowed down waiting for the accused to choose his fate (Stockton, 13). One thing that was different from another form of justice is that the person was guided by the impartial and incorruptible for justice which guided him in choosing the right door based on whether he was guilty or not.

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One factor that leaves everyone wondering is how is justice served when the individual is to open any door without knowing which door had the tiger and which one had the lady. This state of mind means that one is to trust his own instincts in deciding life or death. Then the question that many people may ask themselves is whether justice could go unserved if the individual by luck chooses the lady instead of the lion and survives even when the king knew very well that he had been found guilty (Stockton, 14). When the leader leaves the final justice to chance, then justice may either be served or not. Individual who are smart enough may have a way of determining where the tiger or the lady will come from through analyzing a series of such scenarios that have taken place before thus surviving the beast and winning the lady?

This form of justice is however similar to the forms of justice that were administered in ancient and middle ages in many kingdoms that used ways like blood feuds or trial by ordeal. Since the criminal and the affected party took part in the ordeal, it means that justice could only be served if the affected individual wins the fight (Laks and Schofield). Then what happens when the criminal still emerges the winner. This makes the ancient justice system as a way of entertainment to the king and those in the arena rather real justice to the subjects. The king seemed to enjoy the sight of devouring of the criminal by the tiger since the public was accustomed to this and wondered why the individual could die in such a way (Laks and Schofield, 19). The fact that the princess learns to determine which fate lies within which door means that the justice system is not impartial but rather an activity that takes advantage of conflict through entertainment in the arena (O’Pry, 8). On the other hand, the question that may be asked is why an innocent person should be subjected to another woman as a gift without his consent. Did the king see women as objects rather than individuals, since the woman was not given a chance to choose the man he wanted or allowing the man to decide in case he had a wife The ability of the princess to determine the fate or the door that carries each fate is an indicator that women had better instincts than men. Despite them being not useful in the arena.

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However, the heart of the princess could connect with that of the accused person to guide him in choosing the right door and save himself. On the other hand, since the princess can save the young man but cannot have him, then could her instincts be impartial and render the man to the beast rather than save him for another woman (Stockton, 13). What comes out from the story is that justice can be so difficult to be impartial since humans can make decisions not based on their own instincts but rather on the impartial feelings that they have. Therefore, despite being semi-barbaric the story highlights how barbarism was both partial and impartial in satisfying the needs of the people through the justice system. However, (Arrigo and Bersot) the amphitheater build by the king allows him to exert authority rather than justice to the people. Regardless of the outcome or the door that the accused chooses, the king still satisfies his own fancies by leaving the verdict to chance. Thus chance is the climax of the amphitheater and the experience that the arena witnesses.

Works Cited

Arrigo, Bruce and Heather Bersot. The Routledge Handbook of International Crime and Justice Studies. New York: Routledge, 2014.

Laks, Andre and Malcolm Schofield. Justice and Generosity: Studies in Hellenistic Social and Political Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

O’Pry, Kay. “Social and political roles of women in Athens and Sparta.” Saber and Scroll 1.2 (2012): 7-13.

Stockton, Frank R. The Lady or the Tiger. 3rd. Kindle books, 2010.

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