The Lady or the Tiger Lesson Plans

"The Lady or the Tiger" by Frank Stockton is a unique story to read with students. With an ambiguous ending, students get a chance to use their detective skills to decide the man's fate. Did the princess send her lover to his death, or did she swallow her jealousy and send him to another woman? Students also get to practice their creative writing skills by finishing the resolution; this often produces considerable insight to the type of students I have in my class. Will they kill the handsome young man? Spare him? Create a paradoxical surprise ending? The choice is up to the reader!

Student Activities for The Lady or the Tiger

"The Lady or the Tiger" Story Teacher Study Guide

In this premade teacher guide, you will find the following:

  • Essential Questions: These questions can be used as group discussion questions, journal questions, or simply as questions to consider while reading.

  • ”The Lady or the Tiger” Summary: A brief plot summary of the story that may contain spoilers! This information helps the teacher pinpoint the important events of the story.

  • Plot Diagram Activity: This premade activity is a great way to have your students provide a “The Lady or the Tiger” analysis in storyboard form. Students are required to identify the exposition, the conflict, and the rising action of the story. They will use images and words to show what they know. This activity is a great way to gage what the students consider to be important information in the story, and it is interesting to see how the same story will result in such different interpretations and storyboards!

  • Visual Vocabulary Activity: For this activity, students will be asked to create a spider map that illustrates and defines various words from the story. “The Lady or the Tiger” can be a difficult read for students, and it’s important for them to really understand the advanced vocabulary that the author uses. Teachers may want to have students complete a larger spider map, or have students complete this activity more than once as they read the story.

  • A Dilemma Activity: A dilemma is a situation in which a character has to make a difficult decision between two or more options. There are many dilemmas in this story, the most obvious being the dilemma that the princess finds herself in. For this activity, the students must create a “The Lady or the Tiger” storyboard that analyzes one of the dilemmas that a character faces.

Our premade activities are completely customizable and easy to assign. Students will love being able to show what they have learned in a creative and engaging way!

Essential Questions and Discussion Questions for "The Lady or the Tiger"

  1. Do you believe that you choose your own fate?

  2. What is a dilemma? Would you consider this story to be a dilemma?

  3. Can you say with certainty what you would do when faced with a dilemma? Are there certain things to take into consideration when making your decision?

  4. Discuss “The Lady or the Tiger” characterization of the king. Many think his method is barbaric. Do you agree? Why or why not?

  5. What was the purpose of building the king’s arena?

  6. What is “poetic justice”? Do you think the type of justice system that the king has implemented when someone is accused of a crime is fair?

  7. What was the young man’s crime? Do you think such a case deserved such a huge punishment?

  8. The princess hated the woman who was to be the young man’s bride if he chose that door. Why do you think the princess hated her?

  9. The young man looked to the princess for a hint of which door to choose. Would you have done this, or would you have chosen the door yourself?

  10. What do you think the young man would want his fate to be? Do you think he would choose to marry the fair maiden even if he is in love with the princess, or do you think he would choose death because he couldn’t be with the woman he really loves?

  11. Do you think the hungry tiger or the most beautiful lady is behind the door on the right?

"The Lady or the Tiger" Summary

"The Lady or the Tiger" is a short story without resolution. Set in a kingdom ruled by a semi-barbaric king, the story centers around the king’s approach to justice. Any subject who commits a crime of sufficient interest is summoned to the royal arena where they choose their fate by picking between two doors. Behind one door is a fierce tiger that will eat the person alive, and behind the other door is a fair maiden to whom they will be married at once; the fate of the individual is determined by chance.

One day, the king finds out that his daughter has fallen in love with a brave, sincere young man. However, he is not of royal birth. Enraged by this, the king summons him to the arena to determine his fate. Meanwhile, the princess uses her guile and bribery to gain knowledge of the doors' arrangement and that the woman behind the one door has previously aroused jealousy in the princess. Knowing this information, the princess signals for her lover to open the door to the right. The entire kingdom waits to see what the door hides: the lady or the tiger.

The unique aspect about this story that is unlike other short stories, is that the reader does not know what is behind the door on the right. What do you think?

Post Reading Activity Ideas

  1. For Groups: Choose a scene from the story and write a short play to reenact to the class. Use the traditional storyboard layout to plan out your scenes. You can add text to your storyboards, or simply use the cells to visualize each scene of your play.

  2. Using the timeline layout, retell the story in chronological order. Another option for the timeline layout is to create a timeline of one of the character’s lives.

  3. Using one of Storyboard That’s social media templates as a starting point, create a social media page for one or more of the characters in the story. Be sure to think like the character as you create the social media page. What are some things that this character likes to do and would want to share on their personal page?

  4. Using the worksheet layout and Storyboard That’s worksheet assets, create a test or a quiz for other students in the class. You can create all kinds of questions such as multiple choice, short answer, and even matching! When you are done, be sure to make an answer key.

  5. Write a journal entry from the point of view of the princess. What would she be thinking about as she contemplates whether or not she should save the man she loves?

  6. Write a journal entry from the point of view of the young man. What would he be thinking about as he stands facing the two doors? Do you think he would want to marry another woman that he doesn’t love, or face the tiger if he couldn’t be with the princess?

  7. Using one of Storyboard That’s board game templates, create a game based on the book for your classmates to play! Think about the setting of the story and use that as the theme of your game.

  8. Create a scrapbook page made by one of the characters in the novel. Be sure to use plenty of images and text on your scrapbook page. Storyboard That has lots of premade templates that you can use as is, or change to fit your character’s personality! Check out our scrapbook templates today!

  9. Create a map of the setting using the small poster or worksheet layout. Use free form or other text boxes to include a key or label the different parts of the map.

  10. Using one of Storyboard That’s biography poster templates, create a poster about the character of your choice. Readers don’t actually know much about any of the characters in this story, not even their names! It is up to the student to create a back story and other personal information about the character that they choose. Be sure to include important biographical features such as: place and date of birth, family life, accomplishments, etc.

  11. Organize a debate for the class to participate in. One side will argue that the princess should have the tiger behind the door on the right, and one side will argue that the beautiful woman is behind the right door. Have students work together to come up with reasons why they believe this, and have students debate their reasoning.

  12. Have students complete the story as they think it should end. Students should plan their final scene using a storyboard to organize their thoughts. Share everyone’s endings with the class and determine what the majority of the class would have done in the princess’ shoes. Discuss as a group.

About the Author

Frank Stockton was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1834. His father, a well known Methodist minister, discouraged him from becoming a writer, and he worked as a wood engraver for many years until his father passed away in 1860. When his brother founded a newspaper in Philadelphia in 1867, Stockton was one of the writers. Later that year, his first fairy tale, “Ting-a-ling” was published in a local magazine. As he wrote more fairy tales and fables, he became known for his humorous and charming style of writing children’s stories. Stockton died in 1902 at the age of 68, but his works have been published many times and are still widely popular today. Some of his most well known work, besides “The Lady or the Tiger”, include:

  • ”The Bee-Man of Orn”
  • ”The Adventures of Captain Horn”
  • "The Casting Away of Mrs. Lecks and Mrs. Aleshine"
  • "Kate Bonnet: The Romance of a Pirate's Daughter"
  • ”The Griffin and the Minor Canon”

Buy The Lady or the Tiger on Amazon

How to Create an Ending for "The Lady or the Tiger"


Understand the Story

Make sure students have a clear understanding of the plot, characters, and ambiguous ending of "The Lady or the Tiger" by Frank Stockton. Discuss the possible interpretations and encourage students to form their own opinions about what they think happens next.


Plan the Resolution

Ask students to brainstorm different possible endings for the story. Have them consider the motivations and characteristics of the characters involved, as well as the themes and dilemmas explored throughout the story. Encourage creativity and thinking outside the box.


Storyboard the Chosen Ending

Using a storyboard layout, have students visually depict their chosen ending for the story. They can create scenes and add text to explain the events and the resolution they envision. Encourage them to use their creativity to craft a compelling and thought-provoking ending.


Share and Discuss

Give students the opportunity to present their endings to the class. Allow for open discussion and exploration of the different resolutions proposed. Encourage students to explain their reasoning and how their ending aligns with the themes and ideas presented in the story.


Analyze and Reflect

Engage students in a reflection activity where they compare and contrast their chosen endings with the original ambiguous ending. Have them consider the impact of their resolutions on the story's themes, characters, and overall message. Encourage critical thinking and thoughtful analysis.


Write Alternative Endings

As an extension activity, challenge students to write alternative endings to "The Lady or the Tiger." They can expand on their storyboards and develop a full narrative for their chosen resolution. This activity allows students to further explore their creativity and storytelling skills.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Lady or the Tiger

What is the plot of “The Lady or the Tiger”?

“The Lady or the Tiger” plot is about a king who has a very strange way of implementing the justice system. When he finds out that the man with whom his daughter is in love isn’t royal, he brings him to choose his own fate: behind a door hides a ferocious tiger, and behind the other is the woman he will marry. The princess is left to make the decision, and the reader is left wondering what actually happened in the end!

Where does the story take place in “The Lady or the Tiger”?

The reader isn’t quite sure where the story takes place. All we know is that it takes place in a kingdom in “the very olden time”, much like a fairy tale, or other stories like it.

What does the tiger symbolize in “The Lady or the Tiger”?

The story is full of symbolism. The tiger symbolizes punishment and death, the princess symbolizes virtue rewarded, and the doors represent fate; so dire a fate it could be.

Find more lesson plans and activities like these in our English Language Arts Category!
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