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2006 Essay Contest

Winning Entries

Topic: New Perspectives on Austen's Characters

Students were asked to address one of the following questions.

  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 Austen novels. How do characters compete for one or two of the following: attention, admiration, affection, familial importance, social status, reputation, personal satisfaction, power?

NOTE: Only first-place essays were published online prior to 2012.

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