The Lady or the Tiger?

(Reading/Listening practice for Levels 5, 6, and ERV)

Kingdom (photo by

Kingdom (photo by


Tiger (photo by J. Patrick Fischer, Wikimedia Common)

Imagine a magical kingdom where a king lives with his daughter, the Princess. The king has a strange way of dealing with justice. If someone is accused of a crime, they don’t go to court. They don’t talk to a lawyer. They don’t talk to a judge.

Instead, they go to a huge arena with two closed doors.

Behind one door is a beautiful woman.

Behind the other door is a tiger.

If the criminal opens the door and finds the lady, he marries her.

If the criminal opens the door and finds the tiger, the tiger eats him, and he dies.

Do you think this is a fair way to deal with justice?



In the story “The Lady or the Tiger,” written in 1882 by the American author Frank R. Stockton, the princess’s lover is put into the arena. The princess knows which door has the woman. She also knows which door has the tiger. But which will she command? Does she want the tiger to eat her lover? Or does she want him to marry another woman, a woman she hates? Which will she choose?

You can read and listen to a version of the story here. It contains an mp3 version that you can listen to as you read, to help you with pronunciation and fluency. If you want to read the original version, click here, but understand that it uses very old English.

What are your thoughts after you read the story?

What would you do if you were the princess?

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