Winning Essays for 2007

2007 Essay Topic: Emma

For the 2007 Essay Contest, students addressed one of the two questions below in a 6-8 page essay:

  1. Emma is often identified as a forerunner of mystery novels because of the clues and revelations it contains, among them Jane Fairfax's secret engagement to Frank Churchill and Mr. Knightley's long-unadmitted love for Emma. In addition to these crucial discoveries, this novel resolves a number of more minor mysteries (e.g. Harriet's parentage and Frank's trip to London for a haircut). Analyze the effect of one or more "minor mysteries" in Emma. Secrets that, in your view, Austen doesn't fully explain may be the most rewarding to explore.
  2. The novel Emma takes place entirely in the quiet village of Highbury, among settled country neighbors; readers might naturally expect to find descriptions of "safety" and "security" throughout the narrative. Surprisingly, events and emotions featuring "danger," "pain," and "risk" actually occur more frequently in the novel. Discuss the ways in which a character or characters from Emma pose danger to each other, avoiding the obvious (Emma's relationship to Harriet Smith, for example) in favor of the unexpected.

High School Division

First Prize Winner: Mary Oakley Strasser, North Hunterdon High School, Annandale, NJ
Essay: “Real Evils”: Mr. Woodhouse’s Creation of a Damsel in Distress
Mentor: Mother and father
Second Prize Winner: Katherine S. Bhora, home-schooled, Front Royal, VA
Essay: The Relevation in Emma’s Intrigue
Mentor: Teresa Bhora, mother & home-school teacher
Third Prize Winner: Eunice S. Chan, Castilleja School, Palo Alto, CA
Essay: “With very little to distress or vex her”: The Dangers of Praise and Overprotection in Emma
Mentor: Ms. Holly Thompson, Castilleja School, Palo Alto, CA

College/University Division

First Prize Winner: Christopher A. Griffith, Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, FL
Essay: Frank’s Fragmentation
Mentor: Dr. Kathleen Anderson, Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, FL
Second Prize Winner: Lise M. Gaston, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Essay: A Hazardous Upbringing: Dangerous Relationships in Jane Austen’s Emma
Mentor: Professor Sheila Burgar, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Third Prize Winner: Katie L. Kashkett, McDaniel College, Westminster, MD
Essay: A Knightley Nightmare: Mr. Knightley’s Threat to Emma’s Feminine Power
Mentor: Dr. Pamela Regis, McDaniel College, Westminster, MD

Graduate Division

First Prize Winner: Ann Garner, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA
Essay: What Does A Lady Say? Exploring the Mystery that is Emma’s Acceptance
Mentor: Dr. Jenny Spencer, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA
Second Prize Winner: Jackie F. Mijares, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Essay: Danger in the Post: Frank’s Secrets and Blunders in Emma
Mentor: Dr. Susan Jacobsen, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Third Prize Winner: Mary E. Parrack, University of Dallas, Irving, TX
Essay: A Single Man in Possession of a Fortune: The Unexpected Danger of Mr. Knightley
Mentor: Professor Theresa Kenney, University of Dallas, Irving, TX