I dodged this book in high school, choosing to study Wuthering Heights instead. I'm glad I did, because I doubt I would have enjoyed it as much as a teenager as I do now.
I loved Jane SO MUCH. She was smart and stubborn and exasperating and absolutely correct. I loved that she knew she was annoying, and that she couldn't help it. She knew her life would have been different if she could just be more mannerly and agreeable, but she couldn't make herself do it. She bristled not just at the idea of being shackled by marriage, but also of being shackled by social niceties. She wasn't a brute, but she could not form a fake smile if her life depended on it, and this was so endearing to me. She was open-minded, but morally strong. She was compassionate, and very aware of her own shortcomings. I could have spent so much more time with her!
It's wild that this book was published in 1847 under a male pseudonym. Did anyone really believe that this novel, which examines the interior life of an unconventional lower-class woman, was written by a man? I have a doubt.