The Lady or the Tiger?

The Public Arena Symbol Analysis

The Public Arena Symbol Icon
Though architecturally modeled on the Roman Coliseum, the public arena in “The Lady or the Tiger?” has a purpose that emanated from the semi-barbaric king’s mind alone: the absolutely impartial administration of justice by means of “incorruptible chance.” Those condemned to trial by arena are simply presented with two identical doors: one door conceals a suitable lady whom the condemned will marry whether he likes it or not, while the other door conceals a ferocious tiger that invariably kills the man who releases it.

The Public Arena Quotes in The Lady or the Tiger?

The The Lady or the Tiger? quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Public Arena. 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 arena of the king...with its encircling galleries, its mysterious vaults, and its unseen passages, was an agent of poetic justice, in which crime was punished, or virtue rewarded, by the decrees of an impartial and incorruptible chance.

Related Symbols: The Public Arena
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

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The decisions of this tribunal [held in the public arena] were not only fair, they were positively determinate: the accused person was instantly punished if he found himself guilty, and, if innocent, he was rewarded on the spot, whether he liked it or not. There was no escape from the judgments of the king's arena.

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

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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:

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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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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 Public Arena Symbol Timeline in The Lady or the Tiger?

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Public Arena 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
Justice, Impartiality, and Bias Theme Icon
...considered only “semi-barbaric” and not wholly barbaric is that he adopted from his Latin neighbors the public arena . Barbarically, however, the king staged not gladiatorial contests or Christian martyrdoms in his arena,... (full context)
Justice, Impartiality, and Bias Theme Icon
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
The public arena worked like this: when a subject was accused of a crime that interested the king,... (full context)
Justice, Impartiality, and Bias Theme Icon
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
If the accused opened the door leading to the tiger in the public arena , the tiger would invariably kill him, iron bells would sadly toll, hired mourners would... (full context)
Justice, Impartiality, and Bias Theme Icon
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
Uncertainty, Love, and Trust Theme Icon
This public arena , then, was “the king’s semi-barbaric method of administering justice.” It was perfectly fair in... (full context)
Barbarism and Civilization Theme Icon
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
Uncertainty, Love, and Trust Theme Icon
...was imprisoned for daring to love the princess; his trial was to be held in the public arena . Everyone, from the king to his subjects, was especially interested in this case, because... (full context)
Justice, Impartiality, and Bias Theme Icon
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
The public arena was stocked with the most savage tiger and the most beautiful woman suitable to the... (full context)
The Danger of Treating Life as Art Theme Icon
Uncertainty, Love, and Trust Theme Icon
...the trial arrived. A huge audience gathered to watch. The young man was released into the public arena , to the admiration and anxiety of the audience—they thought him a grand youth, and... (full context)
Justice, Impartiality, and Bias Theme Icon
Uncertainty, Love, and Trust Theme Icon
...even the king – she had used gold and willpower to learn which door in the public arena held which fate. Not only did the princess know which door held which fate, but... (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... (full context)