Liverpool Law Review

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 63–82 | Cite as

Exploring Justitia Through Éowyn and Niobe: On Gender, Race and the Legal

  • Patrícia BrancoEmail author


The image of Lady Justice, a white woman, sometimes appearing with her eyes veiled and other times unveiled, at times bearing scales and/or a sword in her hands, still is a common and popular feature of legal culture in many parts of the world. This is an image of justice that is found everywhere, from courthouses to cartoons. However, one may ask: “Who is this woman?”; Is she really a worthy representative of justice?; Or even a commendable representative of women? Thus, in this article, it is proposed to question the image of Lady Justice and the interpretations that have been associated with it, as well as the standards of conduct required of, and imposed upon, women both inside and outside the legal profession. The article will consider a range of arguments related to such questions, particularly on the issues of gender and race, by using two female characters: Éowyn (from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings) and Niobe (from the Wachowskis’s The Matrix). The two characters are women who have some significance in both plots. Through them, I will establish some similarities and differences with Justitia, namely the need to be disguised as men or embrace male attitudes (a similar process concerning women in the legal profession, for example); the use of weapons (specifically, the sword, and, hence, the necessary analysis of women as law breakers, in contradiction to the image of Justitia); and finally some key issues relating to the representation of women of colour.


Lady Justice Law Gender Race Legal profession 



I would like to thank the suggestions made by Richard Mohr, Sabine N. Meyer, Morag J. Grant and Maria José Carvalho to an earlier version of this paper. I would also like to thank the valuable comments made by the two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Estudos SociaisUniversidade de CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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