The Statue of Liberty has become such a world-renowned icon that just by seeing it most people instantly realize either where the setting of a story is (New York City) or that it involves America and its ideals in some way. In particular, Science Fiction has taken interest in the statue to subvert American ideals or as an instrument for Monumental Damage.
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.
One of the Seven (manmade) Wonders of the World; for more information on the Statue and what tropes it uses, see the Statue's trope page, which also includes tropes from the engraved poem The New Colossus. The following tropes are those often associated with it in other media.
Tropes it has evoked:
- 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.
- Captain Ersatz: Many people mistake Columbia, the figure in the opening sequence of Columbia Pictures films, with her.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: What do you mean, the FRENCH made it??. All jokes aside, the statue is essentially derived from the iconography of The French Revolution. The Roman Goddess Liberty was revived by the Revolutionaries and they installed statues, often crude ones in the altar of Notre Dame and in the Place de la Revolution. After the July Revolution, the painter Eugène Delacroix's famous masterpiece, Liberty Leading the People revived Liberty as an iconic figure, later renamed Marianne. The Statue was built in the Third Republic after the Franco-Prussian War and intended to celebrate the survival of Democracy after a long struggle.
- 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.
- In many stories involving immigrants, seeing the statue from a ship invokes great emotion.
- Insistent Terminology: It was a gift from the people of France. Claiming it simply as a gift from France implies some involvement from the French government.
- Living Statue: Liberty comes to life in many works, most notably Ghostbusters II and as a Weeping Angel in the Doctor Who episode "Doctor Who S33 E5 "The Angels Take Manhattan"."
- Monumental Damage: The shock value of seeing it damaged or destroyed is enormous, most famously in the original Planet of the Apes (1968). It has even been stolen on occasion.
- 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.