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The Lady or the Tiger Discussion Questions

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

~'The Lady or the Tiger~', by Francis Richard Stockton, is a classic short story that students are likely to encounter in a variety of contexts. This lesson offers questions you can use to promote strong discussions of the tale.

Reading The Lady or the Tiger

Are your students working on a unit about reading short stories? One story they are highly likely to encounter is The Lady or the Tiger by Francis Richard Stockton. This story tells of a tyrannical king who tries to punish his daughter's suitors by having them choose between two doors. One has a lady behind it, and the other holds a tiger.

As students read this story, it can help to facilitate discussions, both to enhance comprehension and to build a literary community in your classroom. The questions in this lesson are meant to facilitate strong discussions around the story. These discussion questions are open-ended and may not have right or wrong answers in a clear way; instead, they will let students listen to each other in order to get more out of the story.

Questions About Characters

This section offers questions that deal specifically with the characters in the story.

  • Many critics have described the king in this story as barbaric. Discuss whether you think this is an appropriate characterization. Explain why it is or is not.
  • What motivates the king to establish the situation with the lady and the tiger? What is he hoping to achieve via these obstacles, and what does the situation teach us about his character?
  • Describe the handsome courtier who falls in love with the king's daughter. What are some of his virtues, and what are some of his faults?
  • What is the king's overall impression of the courtier, and how does this change and evolve over the course of the story?
  • How would you characterize the relationship between the princess and the courtier, and why? What are some of the changes that occur in their relationship as the plot unfolds?
  • Talk about the princess's personality. What are her most notable characteristics? What are some of the things she does that help you learn who she is as a person?
  • How are the princess and the king both like and unlike each other? Be specific in terms of what characteristics they do and do not share.
  • What do you learn about the princess at the very end of the story, and how does this influence your impressions of her as a character?

Questions About Plot

Here, you will find questions related to the plot of The Lady or the Tiger.

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