With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
The Statue of Liberty is a French statue given to the United States in 1886 to personify the freedom America offers. It was designed by sculptor Auguste Bartholdi and its framework was engineered by Gustave Eiffel (yes, that one).
A gift from the people of France (to celebrate the parallel fights for freedom of Colonial America and Revolutionary France, and having helped each other many times) the statue itself was designed by sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdinote . Bartholdi on a visit to America selected Bedloe's Island (known as Liberty Island today) as the location. The project often stalled for funding, and received contributions from many people in France and America. Engineering and construction was handled by several people. The final interior work was done by none other than Gustav Eiffel himself. The money for the statue came from several contributors, after a major drive by Joseph Pulitzer which caught people's imagination.
Properly building and setting up the statue took years; it became a project that attracted national interest. Pieces such as the arm and head were exposed to the public before installation. Naturally, there was a big celebration upon its conclusion.
The statue stands on a pedestal on Liberty Island, located just off the coast of Manhattan. It is highly visible from Ellis Island, where immigrants to the United States used to be processed before entering the country. It soon became a symbol for the immigrant story, leading to Emma Lazarus's poem on the subject to be engraved on the Statue itself. It stands alongside works like the David as one of the most influential sculptures in history.
The Statue of Liberty provides examples of the following tropes:
- After the End: Often seen in these kinds of works to show how Man's hubris is ultimately pointless... or give hope that humanity will rise again.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: The statue was originally made of shining copper, but the weather turned it green over the years. The public liked it that way so much they resisted attempts to restore it.
- Big Applesauce: What's the one city the personification of Liberty decided to settle down in? That's right, New York!
- Breaking the Bonds: At the statue's left foot sits a broken shackle, showing the strength of liberty in defeating tyranny.
- Cool Crown: The Statue of Liberty ironically wears a tiara, showing that the only supreme monarch for America is freedom from monarchs.
- Eagleland: Type 1; the Statue serves as a symbol for the opportunity America provides and its dedications to preserving human freedom. Even cynics get sentimental about it.
- Eiffel Tower Effect: The Statue often serves as an instant metonym for America and New York. And since Gustave Eiffel did the engineering for it, the Statue is technically an Eiffel Tower.
- The statue itself was likened by Emma Lazarus as a modern version of the Colossus of Rhodes. With one major difference. The Greek Colossus celebrates conquest, Lady Liberty is a guardian standing by the Golden Door welcoming people to the New World. Incidentally, the Statue of Liberty has outlasted the original Colossus, which stood for only 54 years.
- The statue has numerous smaller copies around the world, most famously the one in Las Vegas. There is of course one in Auguste Bartholdi's native city of Colmar.
- The Good King: The Statue appropriates imagery associated with monarchs and emperors (the crown, the robes, and the tablet of law) to show that the best ruler for mankind is not a king, but a free people.
- Holy Halo: The statues crown gives off seven rays that act as a type of halo, showing Liberty's divine role in human life.
- An Immigrant's Tale:
- It's an important part of the iconography of the American immigrant due to being one the first part of America a Westerner sailing into Ellis Island would see. Its importance to immigrants would be lionized in Charlie Chaplin's The Immigrant and The Godfather Part II.
- Emma Lazarus's poem specifically made the statue part of the immigrant story. She was an American Jewish poet who had initially refused the offer, but after working with refugees from European pogroms, came to understand what America meant to people who were outcasts of society:Paul Auster: "Bartholdi's gigantic effigy was originally intended as a monument to the principles of international republicanism, but The New Colossus reinvented the statue's purpose, turning Liberty into a welcoming mother, a symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world."
- Light Is Good: The Statue holds a torch to show that freedom is what enlightens the world.
- Living Statue: Sometimes in fiction the Statue of Liberty got a life of its own, depending of the story. It could be a giant Weeping Angel or maybe a human-size ClayFighter, for example.
- Monumental Damage: Oh, don't worry, the actual statue has never been damaged like that. However, in fiction is another matter, where it's a common target for rampaging monsters and natural disasters.
- Red Baron: The poem "The New Colosus," (the one on the plaque) gives her the epithet, "MOTHER OF EXILES."
- Rule of Seven: In keeping with the theme of sanctity and holiness, there are seven rays coming from the Statue's head, the same as the Biblical number of perfection.
- Shout-Out: Liberty's book has "JULY IV MDCCLXXVI" inscribed upon it, referencing the date of the Declaration of Independence.
- The Unfettered: A broken fetter sits at the statue's right foot and her right foot is raised to show that Liberty is constantly in motion and will not stop until all can be illuminated by her flame.
- What Could Have Been: in the late 1860s Bartholdi proposed a similar idea for a statue at the entryway of the Suez Canel, depicting an Egyptian woman bearing a torch.