We have to remember that our account of Mary Morstan comes from Watson, who is in love with her.
He describes her as a sweet and refined young woman, saying of her when he first meets her at Holmes's office:
She was a blonde young lady, small, dainty, well gloved, and dressed in the most perfect taste.
Although she does not have much money, she is entirely a lady in her refinement. In many ways, with her trembling dependency, dignity, and courage to come forward to seek her rights, but only to the extent of looking for help from men like Holmes and Watson, she is an ideal Victorian angel of the home.
This fair damsel in distress with her big blue eyes, blond hair, and English ways is also a perfect foil to the sinister "Oriental" characters out to thwart and cheat her. We learn that her self-control is "perfect" and that she is "resolute." When she discovers her father is dead, she turns white and seems about to faint, as a good Victorian woman would, but she rallies and composes herself...
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