Sometimes when I read classics, I sort of forget that the characters are supposed to be real people. The life of an 1800's woman is so different from mine that, even though I've experienced it through many books, I still don't know, firsthand, what it's like. And that makes the characters feel less real to me.
The amazing thing about Jane Eyre is that I do feel like the characters are real, that their emotional reactions to situations mirror my own.
I feel that Austen is a great observer of society and, as such, I feel like I'm observing her characters. But Bronte! I feel that Bronte is writing from experience, not mere observation...and that draws me in, makes me feel as if I live in her world.
Perhaps I'm being unfair. Perhaps I should not have compared Bronte to Austen in the first place. After all, in 40 years, established writing styles and social mannerisms might have changed a great deal.
And I'm not going to say that I prefer one to the other. So far I like them both. Which is nice...because sometimes I like to read outside the proper, superficial drawing rooms of the world according to Austen. Of course sometimes those non-Austen books are tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.