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Was Emily Davison’s Death a Sacrifice or an Accident?

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Was Emily Davison’s death a sacrifice or an accident?

Emily Davison was a radical suffragette, a strong protester for women’s rights, and a 1st wave feminist. She was highly educated. She was imprisoned numerous time for violent protesting.

She made history with her controversial act of jumping in front of a horse at the Derby in 1913. Many people argued of her actual intentions, more specifically, about whether she committed suicide for a cause she was really passionate about or it was simply a terrible failed attempt at trying to protest another harmless way.

Overall, there is evidence to support and argue against the idea that Emily Davison did commit suicide at the Epsom Derby. I believe that in conclusion of all the evidence analysed, came to the belief that Emily Davison’s death was not a suicide, but an accident.

A lot of research has suggested that instead of simply throwing herself in front of the horse, Davison intended to attach a a suffragette scarf to it, so the horse would be flying the flag when it crossed the finishing line. This is backed up by the two WSPU/suffragette movement flags found in her possession after the awful incident. In the footage of the incident, she is seen reaching up to the racehorse.

Also, people might argue that it’s in her nature as she tried to commit suicide before. However, that’s simply an opinion and depends on your views in psychology.

Emmeline Pankhurst(suffragette and 1st wave feminist, leader of the suffrage movement) believed that Emily killed herself. In her biography she wrote: “Emily Davison clung to her conviction that one great tragedy, the deliberate throwing into the breach of a human life, would put an end to the intolerable torture of women. And so she threw herself at the king’s horse, in full view of the king and queen and a great multitude of their majesties’ subjects.” However she might be biased due to her wanting the suffrage movement to be influential and thought the publicity was the thing the movement needed. Or, exactly the opposite; although Emmeline tried to get people to fight for women’s right to vote, she didn’t exactly agree with Emily’s previous actions and she tried to put her in a bad light, or differentiate Emily from herself.

However, Sylvia Pankhurst, Emmeline’s daughter (suffragette and 1st wave feminist) disagrees with her mother’s opinion that it was a suicide. I quote her: “She had concerted a derby protest without tragedy – a mere waving of the purple-white-and-green at Tattenham Corner, which, by its suddenness, it was hoped would stop the race. Whether from the first her purpose was more serious, or whether a final impulse altered her resolve, I know not. Her friend declares she would not thus have died without writing a farewell message to her mother.”



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