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Symbolism of the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, formally known as 'Liberty Enlightening the World', is a colossal statue located on Liberty Island in the Upper New York Bay, United States of America. It stands as a universal symbol of freedom and commemorates the friendship between the United States of America and France. The statue represents a woman holding a torch in her raised right hand and a tablet bearing the adoption date of the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776) in her left. As a national symbol, the image of the Statue of Liberty becomes synonymous with the American ideals of equality, democracy, and freedom.

Design and Symbolism

The design of the Statue of Liberty is rich in symbolism. Her crown represents light with its spikes evoking sun rays extending out to the world. The tablet, inscribed with July 4, 1776 in Roman numerals, notes American independence. To symbolize the end of slavery, the designer Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi placed a broken shackle and chains at the Statue’s foot.

The Statue of Liberty Poem

A significant part of the Statue of Liberty's symbolism is the poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus in 1883, to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. Emma Lazarus Lazarus, was a descendant of Sephardic Jewish immigrants, and was known for her works advocating for the rights of immigrants and her Jewish heritage. Her words were later inscribed on a bronze plaque and placed inside the Statue of Liberty.

Here is the full text of the poem:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

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!"

Interpretation of the Poem

The poem serves as a welcoming beacon to immigrants coming to the United States. The "Mother of Exiles" represents the Statue of Liberty herself, holding a torch that glows with a worldwide welcome. The "air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame" refers to the New York Harbor. The poem's most famous lines, often referred to as the 'Statue of Liberty quote', invite the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free to find refuge in America. This powerful message has forever changed the purpose of the statue, transforming it into a symbol of hope and welcome for immigrants.

Relevance of the Statue of Liberty Today

The Statue of Liberty represents the quintessential American Dream, welcoming immigrants who come in pursuit of new opportunities. Over time, it has come to symbolize hope, freedom, and justice, reflecting a shift towards inclusivity, equality, and justice. The statue encourages societies to celebrate differences, fostering a sense of unity that transcends borders. As a symbol that inspires collective commitment to the ideals of freedom and democracy, the Statue of Liberty continues to play a crucial role in shaping our shared vision for a better, more inclusive world.




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