Tropes In the Media: Lady Justice

Lady Justice:

Lady Justice is depicted as a confident figure who holds a sword in one hand and a scale in the other, with one foot propped up on a book. She is commonly known as “Justitia,” which dates back to Greek mythology as the personification of the goddess Themis, the goddess of divine law and order. In modern times Lady Justice is considered the trope of the Court of Law and the justice system. She is depicted with a blindfold to represent the justice system being impartial to its patrons and holding even scales to show that no one has an advantage over anyone in the justice system. Her sword is unsheathed and “ready for use in the interest of justice” (Knox 2014).


Lady Justice Trope #1

Clay Bennett's Editorial Cartoons - Lady Justice Comics And Cartoons | The Cartoonist Group

The first trope is a political cartoon by cartoonist Clay Bennet that depicts Lady Justice, but with her mouth covered instead of her eyes. She is still holding her balanced scales and sword, but they are cropped out of the image. Lady Justice is shown in a light grey color, hinting that this is a statue depiction of her. She is angled so that only her body from around the shoulders up is visible.

When you first look at this depiction of Lady Justice, her eyes are the most significant feature because they aren’t usually visible. She is looking off into the distance, with an expressionless gaze in her eyes. This is probably because her mouth is covered with the blindfold that is usually seen over her eyes. When Lady Justice is blindfolded it represents the impartiality of the justice system, but this interpretation shows her with her eyes exposed, meaning that the justice system isn’t as impartial as it should be. The blindfold covers her mouth, which can be interpreted as silencing her voice, which is considered to be justice in its truest, unbiased form. The smallest change in the placement of the blindfold in this depiction creates a huge change in meaning; Lady justice has no say in today’s justice system because it is corrupted and sometimes unfair or one-sided.


Lady Justice Trope #2

Lady Justice Breast Cancer by Shelby Mitchell on Dribbble

The second trope is an illustration made by Shelby Mitchell for a breast cancer survivor that depicts Lady Justice in shades of pink and holding the breast cancer awareness ribbon. The scales that Lady Justice usually holds are enlarged behind her with decals of leaves and sparkles. She still has her blindfold over her eyes, but no sword is shown in this depiction. Instead of her usual monotone coloring, this depiction shows a fully colored Lady Justice with pink hair and coloring for the skin tone.

The context for this depiction is clear: advocating for breast cancer awareness. This is made known through the colors and the symbol used for this illustration of Lady Justice. The inclusion of Lady Justice for the advocating of breast cancer awareness leads to the interpretation that this disease can happen to any woman. Lady Justice is a representation of unbiasedness in the justice system and using her in an illustration about breast cancer can lead to that interpretation to be applied to breast cancer instead of the justice system. The exclusion of her sword softens the message because sometimes imagery of swords relays the meaning of battle-readiness or intensity, while the message in this illustration is a softer one since Lady Justice is embracing the breast cancer awareness ribbon, supporting the survivors. Overall, this depiction of Lady Justice can be interpreted as loving despite the unbiasedness of breast cancer for women.


Lady Justice Trope #3

Lady Justice (Volume) - Comic Vine

The third trope is a comic book cover by Fred Harper for the comic book titled “Lady Justice.” This interpretation is intense with flames in the background and a strong Lady Justice holding her sword by the blade close to her neck. The scales are wrapped around her body by long chains and are still depicted as empty. She still adorns a blindfold, but bright green eyes can be seen through it. Her hair is stark white and sticks up in the air. Her overall pose looks powerful.

This depiction of Lady Justice is one that morphs her into a super-powered being. She has all of the aspects as the normal depiction, a blindfold, scales, and a sword, but she is given toned muscles, glowing green eyes, and flowing upward hair that resembles fire. Considering that this is a comic book cover, the character Lady Justice is most likely the protagonist who has superpowers and is not merely a symbol for justice. This cover can be interpreted as a story of a powerful, just, and superpowered version of Lady Justice that uses the symbolism of the original Lady Justice and builds off of it. One can assume this Lady Justice is one that delivers her sense of justice onto villains by fighting them with her sword, which looks more battle-ready compared to the original depiction.