The lady, or the tiger (see details)?
Warning: 130-year-old spoilers ahead!
Frank Stockton’s short story “The Lady, or the Tiger?” tells the tale of a princess and the commoner that she has taken as a lover. When the affair is discovered, the commoner is subjected to an unusual test to determine his guilt or innocence. He is placed into an arena with two doors. Behind one door is a lady; behind the other, a tiger. Should he choose the door concealing the lady, he will be declared innocent and the lady shall become his bride. Should he choose the door concealing the tiger, he will declared guilty and the tiger shall kill him.
The twist in the story is that the princess knows what is concealed behind each door and is able to signal her lover from where she sits in the arena. She can only tell him to open one door or the other, however; she cannot tell him what is behind the door she indicates. The story leaves off with the princess directing her lover to the door on the right. It does not reveal what was behind the door. The question of which fate the princess chose for her lover has both fascinated and infuriated generations of readers.
The questions I pose, then, are these: Toward which door would you direct your lover if you were the princess, and why? Toward which door would you expect the princess to direct you if you were her lover, and why?
Extra credit: The original story can be found here. Are there any clues in the story that make you think the princess chose one way or another?