The Lady or the Tiger?

The princess Character Analysis

The king’s beloved daughter, the princess inherits her father’s barbarically grandiose idealism and fiery passion. When her lover, the young man, is condemned to trial by public arena, the princess uses gold and willpower to discover which door in the arena holds which fate for him, the tiger or the lady, death or marriage. During his trial, with a slight quick movement of her hand, she directs the young man to the door on the right. So: does it hold the lady or the tiger? On the one hand, the princess is horrified to think of the young man’s bloody death at the tiger’s tooth and claw; on the other, she is agonizingly jealous at the prospect of her lover marrying another woman—especially the lady selected for the young man, whom the princess hates for having flirted with him in the past. While the narrator of the story invites us to meditate on the princess’s dilemma, we never learn definitively what she decides to do.

The princess Quotes in The Lady or the Tiger?

The The Lady or the Tiger? quotes below are all either spoken by The princess or refer to The princess. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Charles Scribner's Sons edition of The Lady or the Tiger? published in 1884.
The Lady or the Tiger? Quotes

Of course, everybody knew that the deed with which the accused was charged had been done. He had loved the princess, and neither he, she, nor any one else, thought of denying the fact; but the king would not think of allowing any fact of this kind to interfere with the workings of the tribunal, in which he took such great delight and satisfaction. No matter how the affair turned out, the youth would be disposed of, and the king would take an aesthetic pleasure in watching the course of events…

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

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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:

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Had it not been for the moiety of barbarism in her nature it is probable that the lady would not have been there, but her intense and fervid soul would not allow her to be absent on an occasion in which she was so terribly interested.

Related Characters: The princess
Page Number: 6-7
Explanation and Analysis:

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She knew in which of the two rooms, that lay behind those doors, stood the cage of the tiger, with its open front, and in which waited the lady… Gold, and the power of a woman’s will, had brought the secret to the princess.

Related Characters: The princess
Related Symbols: The Public Arena
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

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The only hope for the youth in which there was any element of certainty was based upon the success of the princess in discovering this mystery; and the moment he looked upon her, he saw she had succeeded, as in his soul he knew she would succeed.

Related Characters: The princess, The young man
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

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Now, the point of the story is this: Did the tiger come out of that door, or did the lady?
The more we reflect upon this question, the harder it is to answer. It involves a study of the human heart which leads us through devious mazes of passion, out of which it is difficult to find our way.

Related Characters: The princess
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

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The princess Character Timeline in The Lady or the Tiger?

The timeline below shows where the character The princess 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?
Barbarism and Civilization Theme Icon
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
Uncertainty, Love, and Trust Theme Icon
Now, the king had a daughter, the princess , as fanciful and passionate as her father. She had fallen in love with a... (full context)
Justice, Impartiality, and Bias Theme Icon
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
...young man as determined “by competent judges.” Everyone knew the young man had indeed loved the princess , and not even he or the princess denied the fact, but the king would... (full context)
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
Uncertainty, Love, and Trust Theme Icon
...man, as was customary, bowed to the king, but was looking all the while at the princess . She would not have been present at the trial were she less passionate and... (full context)
Justice, Impartiality, and Bias Theme Icon
Uncertainty, Love, and Trust Theme Icon
So interested, in fact, was the princess , that – as no one before her ever had, not even the king –... (full context)
Justice, Impartiality, and Bias Theme Icon
Uncertainty, Love, and Trust Theme Icon
From the floor of the public arena, the young man looked into the princess ’s eyes and knew at once—for so it is with lovers whose souls are one—that... (full context)
Uncertainty, Love, and Trust Theme Icon
Interpretation and the Interpreter Theme Icon
...whether we would have the young man be punished or rewarded, but what we think the princess would decide to do. How often during her long “days and nights of anguished deliberation”... (full context)
Interpretation and the Interpreter Theme Icon
...me to presume to set myself up as the one person able to answer” whether the princess sent her lover to death or marriage, either one agonizing for her. So we are... (full context)