Signet Essay Contest

Announcing the 21st Annual Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest

Read the winning essays from previous years »

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 our twentieth 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! Essays must be submitted by a high school English teacher on behalf of students who write an essay on one of five topics for this year’s competition book, The Tempest.

Essay Subject

The Tempest

Topics

Select one of the following five topics:

  1. Caliban, reviled as an unintelligent monster, is the only character whose story does not end happily. Is his fate deserved? Is he the product of nature—a creature born with unchangeable characteristics? Or a creation of nurture—a victim of life-long mistreatment? What textual evidence supports your point of view?
  2. Two minor comic characters, Trinculo and Stephano, dominate Scene 2 in Acts II and III. How do these two minor characters advance the narrative, highlight the behavior of other characters, or illuminate larger themes?
  3. Despite being enslaved and “inhuman,” Caliban and Ariel possess surprisingly attractive characteristics: Caliban speaks some of the most beautiful, powerful lines in the play, and Ariel has his own quaint powers—the ability to become invisible, fly, and observe the world in a semi-omniscient way. What do you make of Shakespeare’s ambiguous treatment of these “master” and “slave” characters?
  4. The Tempest is not the only play in which Shakespeare uses a natural disaster as a crucial plot element. Many modern films employ the same device, using earthquakes, plagues, nuclear wars, or other large-scale disasters as starting points. Why are cataclysmic episodes useful for examining human relationships, responsibilities, and choices? Draw upon the text to support your answer.
  5. Prospero can be seen as either a deeply wronged man who uses his influence for good or as a controlling dictator corrupted by power. When Prospero surrenders his powers at the end of the play, does he make a wise decision? Could he have found a middle ground—a way to retain his powers and still be a moral human? Use examples to support your response. 
Official Rules for 21st 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
  1. Matriculated students: Four (4) copies of the essay should be mailed by an English teacher on behalf of the student (each English teacher may submit only one junior and one senior essay). Each of the four (4) copies of the essay should include a cover letter on school letterhead and includes the following details:
    • Date
    • 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.

  2. Home-schooled students: Four (4) copies of the essay must be mailed by a parent or legal guardian on behalf of the student. Each of the four (4) copies of the essay should include a cover letter on the parent/legal guardian’s letterhead that certifies that the student is home-schooled and includes the following details:
    • Date
    • 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 sponsoring 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.

  3. Essays must be at least two and no more than three double-spaced pages, computer or typewritten (please do not staple submissions).  Please include four (4) copies (including four (4) cover letters) of each essay submitted.  Entries must be mailed to Penguin Publishing Group, Academic Marketing Department, Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest #21, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.  To be eligible, all entries must be postmarked by April 14, 2017 and received on or by April 21, 2017.  Submissions by fax, email or any other electronic means will not be considered.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Judging

All eligible entries received will be judged by a qualified panel of judges chosen by Penguin Publishing Group and winners will be selected on or about June 15, 2017. Winning essays must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the themes and issues presented in Little Women. 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. Winners will be notified by June 24th, 2016 via email, and will be announced online on or about July 1st, 2017.

Prizes

There are five (5) prizes available to be won. Each prize includes a check in the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) to be used toward winner’s tuition and/or expenses related to their higher education. Each prize also includes a Signet Classics Library for the winner’s 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.

In the event that there is an insufficient number of qualified entries or if the judges determine in their absolute discretion that no or too few entries meet the quality standards established to award the prizes, Sponsor reserves the right not to award the prizes.

Eligibility
  1. 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. Void where prohibited by law. All state and local restrictions apply.
  2. Employees of Sponsor and its parent company, subsidiaries, affiliates or other parties in any way involved in the development, production or distribution of this Contest, as well as the immediate family (spouse, parents, siblings, children) and household members of each such employee are not eligible to participate in this Contest.
General
  1. No cash substitution, transfer or assignment of prizes allowed. In the event of the unavailability of a prize or prizes, Sponsor may substitute a prize or prizes of equal or greater value.
  2. All expenses, including taxes (if any), on receipt and use of prizes are the sole responsibility of the winners.
  3. Winners may be required to execute an Affidavit of Eligibility and Release. The affidavit must be returned within fourteen (14) days of notification or another winner will be selected. If a winner is under 18 years of age, their parent/legal guardian will also be required to sign the Affidavit. Because the ARV exceeds $600.00, winners shall be required to provide a Social Security Number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to Sponsor for issuance of a 1099 Form. The winner’s school library or public library in the case of a home-schooled winner that will receive a Signet Classics Library shall also be required to provide a Federal Tax Identification Number to Sponsor for issuance of a 1099 form, in connection with its receipt of this portion of the prize.
  4. By accepting a prize, the winners and their parents and/or legal guardians grant to Sponsor the right to edit, publish, copy, display and otherwise use their entries in connection with this Contest, and to further use their names, likenesses, and biographical information in advertising and promotional materials, without further compensation or permission, except where prohibited by law.
  5. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. By competing in this Contest and/or accepting a prize, entrants release Sponsor, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies, or the agencies of any of them and the authors and/or editors of any books promoted hereby from any and all liability for any loss harm, injuries, damages, cost or expenses arising out of or relating to participation in this Contest or the acceptance, use or misuse of the prize(s). UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL THE RELEASED PARTIES BE LIABLE FOR INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL OR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES, ATTORNEYS’ FEES, OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES.
  6. Any dispute arising from the contest will be determined according to the laws of the state of new york, without reference to its conflict of law principles, and by entering, the entrants consent to the personal jurisdiction of the state and federal courts located in New York County and agree that such courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all such disputes.
Winners List

For a copy of the winners list, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope by December 15, 2016 to Penguin Publishing Group, Academic Marketing Department, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014, Attention: Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest #21, or check online after July 1st, 2017.

Sponsor

Penguin Publishing Group
Academic Marketing Department
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

 

 

The title for the 22nd Annual Signet Classics Essay Contest will be Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. Essay topics will be posted on our website after July 2017.

▲ return to top

Connect With Penguin

Penguin Group (USA)
“You’ll read Find Her for its adrenaline-charged plot. You’ll remember it for its insights into trauma and... 19 hours ago

Penguin Group (USA)
Can we just stare at bookshelves all day? (via http://bit.ly/28Qi2zi) 1 day ago

Penguin Group (USA)
Fans of The Dark Crystal rejoice: SHADOWS OF THE DARK CRYSTAL, the first book of a brand new series set in the world of Jim... 2 days ago

Follow us on Facebook

@penguinusa
Thrilling #beachread recommendation: FIND HER by @LisaGardnerBks! ???? ?? Start reading: https://t.co/0CCsZ96bMJ... 15 hours ago

@penguinusa
RT @VikingBooks: You know #YouAreABadass—now let @JenSincero show that YOU ARE A BADASS AT MAKING MONEY... 1 day ago

@penguinusa
Can we just stare at bookshelves all day long? (via https://t.co/KHZudxyMvd) https://t.co/FtvUIascRR 1 day ago

Penguin Books USA
Enter for a chance to win five Hardcover Classics beautifully illustrated by Anna Bond of +RIFLE PAPER Co.!

One Grand Prize... 8 months ago

Penguin Books USA
#1 +The New York Times–bestselling author Jan Karon returns—with the story readers have been waiting for!

Enter by... 8 months ago

Penguin Books USA
Enter for a chance to win a copy of YOU BLEW IT! by +Josh Gondelman    ?and Joe Berkowitz!

A hilarious examination of faux... 9 months ago