Winning Essays for 2006

2006 Essay Topic: New Perspectives on Austen's Characters

Students were asked to address one of the two questions below:

  1. Jane Austen portrays some characters, such as Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, as distinctly “reserved.”  What function does this personality trait have in one or more novels?  For example, is reserve a virtue, a source of power, a plot device?  Are reserved characters portrayed more positively than vivacious ones in Mansfield Park and/or other Austen works?
  2. Competition is arguably a central theme in Mansfield Park and other Jane Austen novels.  How do characters compete for one or two of the following: attention, admiration, affection, familial importance, social status, reputation, personal satisfaction, power?

High School Division

First Prize Winner: Elizabeth Honor Wilder, St. Gregory College Preparatory School, Tucson, AZ
Essay: Cameo: Reserve and Revelation in Pride and Prejudice
Mentor: Dr. Margaret Wilder, Tucson, AZ
Second Prize Winner: Mary Oakley Strasser, North Hunterdon High School, Annandale, NJ
Essay: Sisterly Affection, Sisterly Competition: Sibling Rivalry in Jane Austen’s Novels
Mentor: Miss Barbara Carr, North Hunterdon High School
Third Prize Winner: Megan E. Caughey, The Miami Valley School, Dayton, OH
Essay: The Undervalued Virtue of Introversion: Examining Reserve in Emma
Mentor: Mrs. Jill P. Hanning, The Miami Valley High School

College/University Division

First Prize Winner: Amy F. Bass, Union College, Schenectady, NY
Essay: “You Have Shown Yourself Very, Very Different”: Mansfield Park’s Radically Reserved Heroine
Mentor: Professor Kara Doyle, Union College
Second Prize Winner: Michael P. von Cannon, Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, FL
Essay: The Power of Fanny, the Timid and Shy
Mentor: Dr. Susan Jones, Palm Beach Atlantic University
Third Prize Winner: Eve E. Overton, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Essay: Restoring Anne's Bloom: Social Change and Personal Reserve in Persuasion
Mentor: Professor Dahlia Porter, University of Pennsylvania

Graduate Division

First Prize Winner: Carolyn M. Duncan, Portland State University, Portland, OR
Essay: Fanny’s Excellence
Mentor: Professor Jay Dickson, Reed College, Portland, OR
Second Prize Winner: Price W. Grisham, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA
Essay: Wit and Reticence: Austen’s Good Neighbors
Mentor: Dr. Garth Rosell, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Third Prize Winner: Ann E. Garner, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Essay: Sympathy for the Devil
Mentor: Dr. Bonnie Moriarty, Cathedral High School, Springfield, MA