I should probably start by confessing that I am a complete Janeite. The fact that she managed to create characters whose core attributes and desires are still resonating with audience nearly two centuries after her death, speaks volumes, and honestly for that part of her writing ability, as well as many other parts of her talent, I hold her as dearly as many writers hold Dickens.
She defied convention in pursuing a career, in a time when it wasn’t terribly common for women to do so. She took a unconventional path in her private life as well, considering that her situation in life, as the second daughter of a parson meant that she was not terribly financially comfortable. She received a proposal of marriage, from a family friend Harris Bigg-Wither, who while he was not terribly appealing to her, would have provided a comfortable and pleasant life for her and her siblings.
She accepted the proposal, unlike Elizabeth Bennet, but then thought better of it the next morning, and unlike Elizabeth, never received another. The inner strength that she must have possessed in order to withstand the pressure she might have endured from others in the community, who didn’t understand why she would reject someone to all intents and purposes was perfectly adequate marriage material, and the clarity that she would never truly be happy, or make a good match with Harris, is why I respect her.