This is a very interesting article that talks about Jane Austen and how she's been appropriated as a women's/romance novelist, when in fact, she's something else entirely, though passion does play a part in her stories. (Link from Bookslut.)
Charlotte's subsequent life is a kind of decorous hell, made bearable by the fact that the alternative would have been worse. She is the stony reality at the heart of Pride and Prejudice. She tells a woman's story, but in a way that is utterly remote from feminine convention: with scant emotion, appealing to nothing other than rationality. And, like her creator, she has remarkably little to do with cosy readings of The Jane Austen Book Club and communal swoons over Mr Darcy.
Personally I agree with the statement about Charlotte - she's always struck me as a very smart-thinking woman who does the best she can in the circumstances. However Austen very clearly bases most of her stories around a love story, so she is very definitely also a romance novelist. Does that fact necessarily take away from the other themes in her story? I don't think so.
What do you think?