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Signet Classics Announces Winners of the 16th Annual Scholarship Essay Contest

Emma New York, NY, July 2012—Signet Classics, the imprint of New American Library devoted for more than 40 years to publishing inexpensive paperback editions of more than 300 of the world's greatest literary works, has announced the winners of the fifteenth annual Signet Classics Scholarship Essay Contest. The Grand Prize Winners, listed in alphabetical order, are:

Read the winning essays from previous years »

Essay Subject: Emma by Jane Austen

Topics for the essay contest:

  1. In the "Introduction" to the Signet edition, Margaret Drabble writes:
    When Jane Austen embarked on her novel Emma, she is said to have said, "I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." (pp. v)
    What is there about Emma that people might not like? Give specific examples from the novel. How does this reflect your own opinion about Emma? Explain.
  2. Will Emma and Mr. Knightley be happy once they are married and settled? What passages in the novel led you to this conclusion? What differences or conflicts in these characters might lead to stress or dissatisfaction in their union?
  3. Curiously, four of the major characters, Emma, Frank, Jane and Harriet, are children raised by surrogate parents. How do you think their family situations influence them as adults? Consider their personalities, behavior, values, relationships. Choose at least two of these characters and discuss the ways their backgrounds influence the course they take in the novel. Use specific details.
  4. Emma experiences several painful events and realizations that alter her understanding of herself and jolt her out of her complacency. Discuss three or four of the most important events which trigger her development into a mature and compassionate young woman from a clever but self-centered adolescent.
  5. The Victorian writers who followed Jane Austen later in the nineteenth century often depicted a dramatic range of social classes. In contrast, Austen's focus in Emma is more narrow, essentially only depicting the middle class since none of the characters are either extremely wealthy or extremely poor. Nevertheless like the larger outside world, the society is quite rigidly stratified. How is community depicted? What defines each group economically, culturally and socially?

 

The Signet Classics Scholarship Essay Contest was established in 1996 to encourage greater interest in reading among high school students by offering tangible assistance to the winning students and their schools. It is open to qualifying high school juniors and seniors in the United States. "We are proud to be involved in a unique scholarship program that encourages student appreciation for the great classics," notes Craig Burke, Vice President and Executive Director of Publicity for New American Library.

Entrants are required to submit a 2-3 page double-spaced, typewritten essay, answering one of four questions relating to the designated competition book. Essays must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the themes in the book; clear, concise writing; and logical, well-supported arguments. Judges also consider style, content, grammar and originality. Five Grand Prize Winners are each awarded a $1,000 scholarship and a Signet Classics Library for their school (or local public library, in the case of home-schooled students), valued at $1,700.

1984 by George Orwell The designated title for 2011-2012 was Emma by Jane Austen. The book selected for the 2012-2013 Signet Classics Scholarship Essay Contest is 1984, by George Orwell.

For more information on the 2012-2013 Signet Classics Essay Contest, click here.

Entry forms and full information about the contest will also be available in high school English departments, or by writing to:

Penguin Group (USA)
Signet Classics Scholarship Essay Contest
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014

New American Library is a division of Penguin Group (USA), part of Pearson Plc, the international media group, and includes the imprints Signet, Signet Classics, Onyx, Roc and NAL Trade Paperbacks.


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