I first read Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre when I was fourteen and found it dreadfully boring. There's a whole middle section where the characters are happy! How is that exciting? So I put it down for three years, and when I picked it up again at seventeen with a new viewpoint, I was enthralled. The love story between Jane and Rochester was fascinating in its own way, but it was Jane who captured my heart.
Jane, who loomed so large in Charlotte's eyes that the book is named after her. Jane, who grows up feeling unloved and still has tremendous amounts of love to give away. Jane, who decides to work as a governess in order to experience life outside of the one she knew for ten years. Jane, who chooses morality over love. Jane, who finds she can't compromise her ideals. Jane, who learns to love herself and finds love in the process.
She is a wonder and a treasure. To this day, she remains one of my favorite characters ever written. We all want to be more like Lizzie Bennet, who is quick-witted in the face of insult and sure of herself, but in reality, I know I'm closer to Jane. I am not outspoken and lively, but I take comfort in relating to characters who, like Jane, have a quiet strength and a determination of spirit.