I'm currently read JE in a grad class that's focus is feminism. As we went around are discussion circle, everyone had to point share a thought on the book, and when my turn came around, I voiced some confusion as to why Jane would fall in love with Rochester. My reasons came down to this: Rochester is kind if a jerk, in general and to Jane. He's very condescending to her, at one point saying he wants to claim Jane "as his own." He's deceitful: he dresses up as a gypsy in order to trick Jane into expressing how she feels for him, and then, after he knows how she feels, he continues to dirt with Ms. Ingram in order to make Jane jealous. Aside from this, he does other things that would seem to suggest he's a jerk: he constantly tries to make up Jane into something she isn't with jewelry and expensive dresses, against her protests, and he can be downright cold. He comes around a bit and shows his romantic side, but this is only after he has won Jane's heart; he never acts that way in the process of her falling in love with him.
As I stated my case in class, from the very start, when I said, "I don't get who Jane falls in love with Rochester," I was met with complete confusion by my (female) professor and some of the other students (four of which are female, and only one other male, who judiciously kept his mouth shut). My professor was ready to pounce right away, asking "How can you think that?" As I explained those points above, she sort of conceded that she could see where I was coming from, as did my fellow students, who were a but more diplomatic by agreeing with me (at least in the sense that they understood my viewpoint) because they could tell I was being grilled by the professor (up to this point in class, this being our fourth meeting, she had never displayed so much emotion). The women of the class seemed to think that Jane falling in love with Rochester was perfectly reasonable, and it was an aspect of the story they obviously enjoyed. The best reasons that they could come up with that Jane fell so in love with Rochester is that she saw him as an intellectual equal, and some sort of "challenge." I didn't buy it then, and I still don't. It seems to me the most likely reason she would fall in love with him is because he was the first man she encountered that showed her even a little bit of affection and respect.
So, am I totally off-bass here? If so, maybe someone can explain to me better why Jane falls in love with Rochester. I think I caught my class off-guard with this claim--they obviously felt the reasons for Jane falling in love with Rochester were self-evident.