Academic | Essay Contest
The 15th Annual Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest
With an unbeatable lineup of over 300 of the greatest literary works the world has ever known, Signet Classics is the publisher that students, education professionals, and the public turn to more than any other. Now, we are proud to host the fifteenth annual Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest, in which five high school juniors or seniors can each win a $1,000 scholarship award to be used toward their higher education plus a Signet Classics library for their school! Students enter by writing an essay on one of five topics posed for this year’s competition book, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.
Essay Subject The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Select one of the following five topics:
- In the introduction to the Signet Classic edition, Alev Lytle Croutier states: “The themes of imperialism and sensationalism in Collins’s writings challenged the prejudices prevalent in Victorian England. At the heart of his social critiques was Collins’s contempt for abuses of power, whether at home in Britain or abroad in the British Empire.” Cite examples of such criticisms and comment on them.
- How do different female characters in The Moonstone embody or defy what we might think of as traditional Victorian or nineteenth-century values and expectations for women’s behavior?
- The Moonstone could have been told in the third person by one omniscient narrator, yet Collins chooses to tell the story from the point of view of eight different narrators. Do you believe the novel benefits from this approach? Why or why not? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Cite examples to support your responses.
- Many characters in the novel are neither straightforward heroes or anti-heroes, and often seem to do insensitive things in service of what they feel is right. Some characters are attractive overall but exhibit behaviors that are unsympathetic, while characters like the Hindoos fluctuate between appearing villainous and victimized. Choose two figures who reveal different sides to their personalities, and discuss the way these characteristics help and/or undermine their roles in the novel. (For purposes of this question, the Hindoos may be regarded as a single figure.)
- Religion and superstition cause many of the characters in The Moonstone to behave in ways the other characters cannot understand. Miss Clack’s religious fanaticism, the actions of the Indians, and the superstitions of Gabriel Betteredge all strike other characters as odd. How do these personalities help you understand what is going on in the immediate environment that the characters inhabit? In what ways do they also comment on larger social issues of the period?
Official Rules for 15th Annual Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest
No purchase necessary. A purchase will not enhance your opportunity to win.
Open to 11th and 12th grade full-time matriculated students who are attending high schools located in the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, or home-schooled students between the ages of 16-18 who are residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia.
How to Enter
- Matriculated students: Four (4) copies of the essay must be mailed by an English teacher on behalf of the student (each English teacher may submit only one junior and one senior essay), along with a cover letter on school letterhead that includes the following details:
- Student’s full name, grade, address, e-mail and home telephone number
- Name of high school
- Name, email and daytime telephone number of English teacher submitting essay (please include summer contact information if different from school year contact information)
- Name, e-mail and daytime telephone number of the school’s administration officer
- Topic selected (#1, #2, #3, #4 or #5)
- Certification by teacher that the essay is the student’s original work
Essays submitted without a cover letter on school letterhead or cover letters that do not include the above details will be disqualified.
- Home-schooled students: Four (4) copies of the essay must be mailed by a parent or legal guardian on behalf of the student, along with a cover letter on the parent/legal guardian’s letterhead that certifies that the student is home-schooled and that includes the following details:
- Student’s full name, address, e-mail and home telephone number
- Student’s equivalent grade
- Name and daytime telephone number and e-mail of the parent/legal guardian
- Topic selected (#1, #2, #3, #4 or #5)
- Certification by sponsoring parent/legal guardian of home-schooled student that the essay is the student’s original work
Essays submitted without a cover letter on parent/legal guardian’s letterhead or cover letters that do not include the above details will be disqualified.
- Essays must be at least two and no more than three double-spaced pages, computer or typewritten. Please include four (4) copies (including the cover letter) of each essay submitted. Entries must be mailed to Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Academic Marketing Department, Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014. To be eligible, all entries must be postmarked by April 14, 2011 and received on or by April 21, 2011. Submissions by fax, email, disc or any other electronic means will not be considered.
- Entries will not be returned. By entering the Contest, contestants agree to abide by these rules, and represent and warrant that the entries are their own and original creations, and do not violate or infringe the rights, including, without limitation, copyrights, trademark rights or rights of publicity/privacy, of any third party.
- Entries are void if they are in whole or in part illegible, incomplete, damaged or handwritten. No responsibility is assumed for late, lost, damaged, incomplete, illegible, postage due or misdirected mail entries.
All eligible entries received will be judged by a qualified panel of judges chosen by Penguin Group (USA) Inc. (“Sponsor”) and winners will be selected on or about June 16, 2011. Submissions will be judged on style, content, grammar and originality. Judges will look for clear, concise writing that is original, articulate, logically organized and well-supported. Winning essays must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the themes and issues presented in The Moonstone. Winners will be notified by June 23, 2011 via telephone or email.
Five (5) winners each will be awarded a check in the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) to be used toward tuition and/or expenses related to their higher education. Each winner will also receive a Signet Classics Library for their school library, or public library in the case of a home-schooled winner (Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”) $1,600.00). Total ARV per prize: $2,600.00.
For more details and any questions, visit
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Academic Marketing Department
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
The title for the 16th Annual Signet Classics Essay Contest will be Emma by Jane Austen. Essay topics will be posted on our website after July 2011.