Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre is widely considered as one of the first feminist novels of English literature. One can see why. The strong female lead is relentless in her determination and won’t be subjected by the strong men she encounters in her life. Her commitment to virtue is admirable. Her strong-willed nature is often met with surprise and admiration. Men often see her as equal, a fact that should not be remarkable except for the fact that this was not the norm in the 19th century. Not everything about Jane Eyre is subversive though. Her upbringing is traditional and her unyielding nature is tempered by instruction. Nonetheless, she remains a defiant character. She’s not a rebel fighting for a cause but she is unwilling to compromise her morals, even when that will bring her pain. In the context of the original publication, this subversive selflessness was in itself an act of rebellion, even when her moral compass was a Christian one.