"I dare say you are clever, though," continued Bessie, by way of solace. "What can you do? Can you play on the piano?"
There was one in the room; Bessie went and opened it, and then asked me to sit down and give her a tune: I played a waltz or two and she was charmed.
"The Miss Reeds could not play as well!" she said exultingly. "I always said you would surpass them in learning." (1.10.66-69)
Bessie has always thought of Jane’s intellectual abilities as making up for, or even replacing, her (lack of) good looks. If Bessie were a high school teacher, she’d be the kind who totally believed that there are only two kinds of girls: the popular, pretty ones and the dorky, bookish ones, and never the twain shall meet.
We know that’s a pretty silly way to see the world—haven’t we learned from reality TV that anyone can be gorgeous with the right expensive makeover? And haven’t you learned from Shmoop that anyone can get smarter with the right tutor? It’s nice that Bessie’s so excited for Jane’s accomplishments, but the way she sees the world—pretty and smart are opposites—is going to make a lot of trouble for Jane down the line, when she has to keep herself dowdy in order to feel savvy.