Freedom or Death

This study guide will help you analyse the speech “Freedom or Death” by Emmeline Pankhurst. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on summary, analysis, topic, speaker, audience, language, modes of persuasion, circumstances, and intention.

Presentation of the speech

Title: “Freedom or Death”
Speaker: Emmeline Pankhurst
Where: Hartford, Connecticut
When: 13th of November, 1913, during the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928) was one of the leaders of the British Suffragette Movement, advocating for women’s right to vote. Today she is considered one of the most influential people of the 20th century, but during her lifetime she was considered an enemy of the state, often having arrest warrants on her name. Her methods of advancing women’s rights, including using violence, have sometimes been criticised.

Pankhurst delivered the speech “Freedom or Death” while on tour in the US to raise money for her organisation, Women's Social and Political Union. The speech is considered an essential milestone in the Women’s Rights Movement in the West.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide:


Pankhurst appeals to trust and authority in several ways in the speech.

First, she borrows from the authority and legitimacy of the American Revolution and Civil War to justify the way suffragettes are using aggressive methods to advance their cause: “You won your freedom in America when you had the revolution, by bloodshed, by sacrificing human life. You won the civil war by the sacrifice of human life when you decided to emancipate the negro.”


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Freedom or Death

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