The Lady, or the Tiger?

I was looking up thought experiments on t’Internet last night.  Look I do these sorts of things, OK.  I found this one which I’ve read before and thought I’d post it to see what you lovely blogging folk would say.

In an ancient land a “semi-barbaric King” rules.  He has an unusual form of trial justice for criminals.  Place the accused in an arena with two exits.  Behind one door was a beautiful woman and behind the other was a ravenous and slightly annoyed tiger.   The accused is given the choice of picking only one door. 

The door with the woman behind it leads to a declaration of innocence and as a reward he was required to marry the woman, regardless of previous marital status.

The door with the tiger behind it leads to a messy and noisy death as punishment for his crime.  Clearly he is guilty if he makes such a bad decision.

One day the king found that his daughter, the princess, had taken a lover far beneath her station.  The king, not being a progressive ruler, threw the man in prison and set a date for his trial in the arena.  When the trial day arrives the man looked to the princess for some indication of which door to pick.  The princess knows which door leads to the woman and which door leads to the tiger but is faced with a conundrum.  If she indicated the door with the tiger, then the man she loved would be killed on the spot; however, if she indicated the door with the lady, her lover would be forced to marry another woman and even though he would be alive she would never be with him again. Finally she does indicate a door, which the suitor then opens.

The question is:  Did the tiger come out of that door, or did the lady?
Not TiggerShe's a Wonder

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31 Comments

Filed under Bad things happen, Reasons to be cheerful, Thought experiment

31 responses to “The Lady, or the Tiger?

  1. the tiger, she’d rather he was dead than see him with another lady…..

  2. Mas

    Goodness me!! The trick would be for the princess to indicate the lady; then to go down there herself and be the lady behind the door.

    Of course, should the situation ever arise that me and pinky are lovers and we are thrown into this conundrum … I would pick the door opposite to the one she indicates…

  3. Yeah I agree with mass, the lady should point out the door with the lady and run and stand behind it, but then on second thoughts it sounds absolutely stupid.
    I think she should lead him to the door with the lady, at least she can try and win him back by using tricks and stuff…

  4. Pinky, the tiger, eh? Why do you think she’d rather he were dead than with someone else? Is it jealousy or spite or does she know that he would rather die than live without her?

    Mas, there isn’t an option for her to join him. It’s death or separation. Mind you after Pinky’s speedy death sentence I’m steering clear of her as well. Lovely as she is.

    Vi, you’d opt for separation in the hope that the future might bring you back together. How would you reconcile the years of marriage to another if you ever did meet again? What if he preferred death to separation and he turned against you for denying him that release? Having said that I’m with you. Death doesn’t leave any options so given the choice I’d choose the path of living apart.

  5. Dom

    She will indicate the door with the tiger. Being the kings daughter and having access to all parts of the palace she will have trained the tiger to obey her commands. They will both jump onto the tiger and ride off into the sunset (any guards being dispatched by the beast if they stand in the way) where they will live happily ever after until the Princess decides that her lover isn’t helping out enough with the chores, or isn’t paying her enough attention at which point he’ll start escaping to the pub and the whole relationship will slowly head south, probably ending in acrimonious divorce.

  6. Mas

    Now there you go a-changing the rules (rules? what rules?!) surely she could use the commonly used “disguise a colleague as yourself and you as them and no-one would be any the wiser” trick – as used in numerous books and films…?

    Ah; heck – the truth of the matter is, if you (I) loved someone, you (I) would rather have them alive, well, and hopefully happy; even if situations meant they were unable to be with you (me). It would be preferable to know that, rather than having to live with the guilt of being instrumental to their demise.

    Of course, the man could always open _both_ doors, push the lady in front of the tiger and run off into the sunset to meet up again with the princess. 🙂

  7. Neither. She whacked her dad over the head with a doorstop, nicked his keys, released her lover and they ran away together.

  8. I think it says something about the people commenting here who, when given two options, reject both and look for a third. It’s a good something.

  9. Sioned

    Honestly, I would indicate the door with the woman behind it. If I loved someone I would rather see them alive and happy with someone else then injured in any way. Much like my ex-boyfriend – When we split up I found out he had met someone before we split. He did not do anything with her but they had started to hang around quite a bit. We were friends even after I found out. The truth of it was, he and I were not a good match and I thought enough of him to want to see him happy and with someone else then miserable with me. He married her, by the way and I could not be happier for him. :o)

  10. Michelle, that’d because you’re lovely.

  11. Frog, its in my nature to find the very best compromise and avoid confrontation where possible. When faced with yes or no as possible answers, I will always want to say ‘well, it depends’. I’m not good with multi-choice papers.
    Maybe thats why I work in Human Resources. I’m always working round the rules….

  12. Semi Barbaric? What’s Semi barbaric?

    We can’t know the answer. Much like Drunkenspaniel I’m in the “it depends” camp. We don’t have enough information on the character of the Princess to predict/guess what she would do.

  13. I have thought some more.
    It doesn’t matter which door she chooses. Her lover his lost to her either way. She may as well toss a coin to pick the door and then get on with her life.

  14. Nevets92993

    I believe that the princess choose to tell the man to pick the door with the beautiful woman behind it so that she will not have to watch her lover die before her eyes. The first reason why I believe that she would do this was because of sadness. Watching someone die that she loves and cares for and not being able to do anything about it would be a horrible experience, even if she is semi barbaric I still believe that she would not have told him to choose the door with the lion. Another reason why I believe that she wouldn’t tell him to pick the door with the lion would be because of love. Love, is a strong bond, and that is why I believe even if he was forced to marry someone else, the princess would know that he will always lover he no matter what. Last reason why I believe that the princess would tell him to choose the door with the woman would be because of happiness. If I were this princess I would rather see my lover with another person, and be happy, other than being in the stomach of a hungry lion, and being dead. That is why I believe the princess would have chosen the door with the beautiful woman behind it.

  15. Scott

    It is obviously the Princess will choose death for her lover. There is supporting evidence that the Princess liked her lover because he was “handsome and brave”. Also, when the crowd first saw the Princess’s suitor, they believed the man was “Tall and fair, his entrance was greeted with a low hum of admiration…” Those quotes from the text give support that he was the Princess’s lover merely because of his physical attributes.

    The Princess also hated the thought that she would lose her lover to someone of lower station. The Princess hated that woman with all her heart; which shows that the Princess would be inclined to bring death to her lover rather than losing him to a “rival”. The text also shows that the Princess was “semibarbaric”.

    I don’t have much time to say what I want to say since I urgently have to go now. Maybe i’ll finish this up with another comment next time.

    I read this story at school and I didn’t read this one above so the text may be different.

  16. The end of the story has nothing to do with the statement, “if i was the princess” because one isn’t the princess. One has to look at what personality traits that were given to the character in the story, then think what the possible ending could be. For example, if a morbid-being thought of themselves as the princess, they might tell him to pick the door with the tiger. In hopes of a gory show-down, despite the love connection they have. This is obviously not a logical reason the princess would pick the door with the tiger. Just something else to think about.

  17. karl

    rather the princess should tell the truth to his father about it ……i guess

  18. miketzar

    its been enjoyable to read these post but im afraid i need to step in and bring a bit more understanding to the story.

    the whole point of the story, including its ending with the suiter running to the door that the princess indicated, was because the wrighter wanted to put an emphasis on making a connection between the plot and the reader. in the story the princess doesnt have a master plan of how to be with her lover. he would either die and she would be with him in the other world, or he would live his life just out of her reach.

    as for how this connects with the reader, its up to the reader to decide for themselves which door they believe she chose. its a fairly solid display of charecter. those who are willing to take massive pain and sacrifice for a glimmer of a chance at wat they want will usually say she sent him to the tiger. those who prefer to just accept somthing is the way it is and content to hope for fate or watever to bring it to them will say she chose the woman.

    myself, i could never decide which door i thought she opened. they both made sense to me, whatever that says about my charecter

  19. The lady came out of the door since, if you really think about it jealousy is worse than grief. Also she is part barbaric like her dad!

  20. yourimpulse

    i am in favor of the tiger. we must keep in mind that this is probably a 14-16 year old girl,(with a barberic heritige) therefore feelings such as jealousy, vanity and spite are more promanite than feelings such as compassion and love. and the fact that she is a princess dosnt help. and as Scott said she only seemed to like this guy because of apperance, so her feelings could be little more than obssessive love of the young. however this is roman times..so a similar argument could be said about the door with the lady..but if she truely loved him, would she really be so crule as to condem him to a life of pain from being sepperated from his lover? the text says that he knew she knew witch door the tiger was behind in a single glance..and she knew he knew…surely someone with that kind of connection would know wich door she would send him to..that in itself makes the whole argument irrelivent….but i could wrong..i personily would just leave it to chance..its fair and you cant be blamed for it 🙂

  21. agent86

    PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!!!
    When I was 6 years old in the 1970s, my teacher showed the class a short film of this very scenario, the lady or the tiger. I have never forgotten the short as it captured my imagination. Does anyone know where it originated; is it a fable? Better still, would anyone know the name of the short and where I could get it? I’d love to see it again!!

  22. Ian

    I choose the lady. IF she really loved him she would not want him dead.

  23. said,

    The lady or the Tiger presented much controversy on deciding both which door the man chose, and what was behind that door. There are many factors that have us choose the lady, and just as many that would have us to choose the tiger. After thinking about this I made my decision. I believe that the princess would have led to man to the door with the lady behind it. If she really loved him she would not want him to be dead. If she were to lead him to the door with the tiger then she would never have a chance of being with him ever again. On the other hand the princess may have led the man to the door with the tiger. Although the princess’s actual personality is not described, the author says that the king was a semi-barbaric man. If the princess had picked up traits from her father she may have led the man to the tiger just so he could be killed. She may have felt that If she could not love him, then no woman could.

  24. Amanda gee

    I think that she told him to chose the door with the tiger because shes stupid.

  25. Mee:)

    I personally think that the Tiger came out. Because as you read, you can see the hate that the princess has towards the Lady. A woman’s jealousy will almost always prevail when it comes to matters of the heart. “If I can’t have him, no one else can” is a common way of thinking, even today. So behind that door…
    …was a Tiger.

  26. larianea leunela

    for me….it’s a lady…maybe only!
    because love is more powerful than hate., even if he hates the lady so much… she won’t let any harm to the man whom she’s really inlove!

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