The Lady or the Tiger?

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The audience Character Analysis

The people of the kingdom who gather at the public arena to be entertained and pleased by the trials held there. The king’s system of poetic justice is especially popular with audience members because they are excitedly uncertain as to whether they will witness a grizzly death or a joyous (or hilarious) wedding. When someone dies in the arena, the audience mourns with downcast hearts; when someone is married in the arena, they celebrate spectacularly. The audience is fickle in its sympathies, more interested in entertainment than in justice.

The audience Quotes in The Lady or the Tiger?

The The Lady or the Tiger? quotes below are all either spoken by The audience or refer to The audience . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Barbarism and Civilization Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Charles Scribner's Sons edition of The Lady or the Tiger? published in 1884.
The Lady or the Tiger? Quotes

The institution was a very popular one. When the people gathered together on one of the great trial days, they never knew whether they were to witness a bloody slaughter or a hilarious wedding. This element of uncertainty lent an interest to the occasion which it could not otherwise have attained. Thus, the masses were entertained and pleased…

Related Characters: The audience
Related Symbols: The Public Arena
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

The king's subjects love the arena; it is a source of entertainment for them, just as the Coliseum entertained the Romans, and just as sporting events entertain people today. The arena attracts people through the spectacle of "a bloody slaughter or a hilarious wedding," and also by creating suspense for the audience as to which outcome will come to pass. In their excitement, however, the king's subject seem to forget that the people in the arena are not performers, but real people facing life-changing consequences no matter what happens. 

From another perspective, the story implicates us, its readers, in taking pleasure in other people's confusion and pain. We enjoy the suspense of the arena just as much as its fictional audience does. But the narrator doesn't let us enjoy that suspense without complicating it – and he complicates it precisely by not telling us what happens and keeping us always in suspense! 

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A door beneath the royal party opened, and the lover of the princess walked into the arena. Tall, beautiful, fair, his appearance was greeted with a low hum of admiration and anxiety. Half the audience had not known so grand a youth had lived among them. No wonder the princess loved him! What a terrible thing for him to be there!

Related Characters: The princess, The young man, The audience
Related Symbols: The Public Arena
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

For having a love affair with the princess, the young man is subjected to trial by arena. He is handsome, and the audience immediately sympathizes with him as a result. This suggests that the spectators are rather superficial – they should sympathize with the young man because he's being treated unjustly by the king, not because he's "tall, beautiful, fair."

The audience members seem to understand that the relationship between the princess and the young man is perfectly natural, maybe even to be encouraged. We might feel the same, especially since we're so used to the formula where young lovers are cruelly kept from one another by their tyrannical parents, as in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Despite the audience's "anxiety," though, and despite thinking that it's "terrible" for the young man to be in the arena, the audience are content to watch him suffer. Just as an audience of Romeo and Juliet might find pleasure in the deadly "star-crossed" love of the two lover, the audience in the story takes pleasure in the young man's trial as if he is a character in a drama. When such violence is treated as art, the viewer ceases to view the person suffering that violence as a person, and what is awful and unjust becomes just another thing to enjoy.

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The audience Character Timeline in The Lady or the Tiger?

The timeline below shows where the character The audience appears in The Lady or the Tiger?. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Lady or the Tiger?
Justice, Impartiality, and Bias Theme Icon
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
...day that subject’s trial would be held in the arena. When the day came, an audience would consequently assemble at the arena, into which would be released the subject on trial.... (full context)
Justice, Impartiality, and Bias Theme Icon
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
...would invariably kill him, iron bells would sadly toll, hired mourners would wail, and the audience would leave the arena with “downcast hearts,” sad “that one so young and fair, or... (full context)
Justice, Impartiality, and Bias Theme Icon
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
Uncertainty, Love, and Trust Theme Icon
...his own hands.” The uncertainty of the accused’s fate lent interest to his trial—would the audience see “a bloody slaughter or a hilarious wedding”? This made the institution of the public... (full context)
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
Uncertainty, Love, and Trust Theme Icon
The day of the trial arrived. A huge audience gathered to watch. The young man was released into the public arena, to the admiration... (full context)