Jane Austen Inspired

Follow Friday: Signet Classics 16th Annual Student Scholarship Essay Contest Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma

Signet Classics Emma, by Jane Austen (2008)Here is great news for budding young writers. US high school juniors and seniors are eligible to enter the Signet Classics 16th Annual Student Scholarship Essay Contest for a chance to win $1,000 award prize!

This year’s competition book is Jane Austen’s Emma. Essays must be based on the five topic selected by Signet. Here are the details from the official contest website:


Select one of the following five topics:

  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?

Be sure to check out the Official Rules for 16th Annual Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest and read the winning essays from the 15th Annual Contest.

The deadline to submit your essay is April 13, 2012 so don’t delay. Best of luck to all you budding Janeites in the US.


Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

2 thoughts on “Follow Friday: Signet Classics 16th Annual Student Scholarship Essay Contest Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma”

  1. “high school juniors and seniors are illegible” to enter an essay contest–did you mean to write that? or do you mean eligible? Excellent Freudian slip!


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