Julia’s life had been lonely and difficult, and was just starting to get better right before her death.
Sherlock Holmes’s newest client, Helen Stoner, explains that she and her sister did not lead lives of pleasure before she died.
No servant would stay with us, and for a long time we did all the work of the house. She was but thirty at the time of her death, and yet her hair had already begun to whiten, even as mine has.
Her life was beginning to improve, because she was engaged to “a half-pay major of marines” before she died.
One of the causes of the sisters’ grief is their stepfather, Dr. Roylott. He did not say he was opposed to the marriage, but it was soon after that Julia died. This made her sister Helen suspicious of him, and even consider him a suspect.
Although we usually are sympathetic toward the victim, the story probably causes the reader and Dr. Watson to be even more sympathetic. Holmes is rarely moved, but he was intrigued by the case and accepted it. He was able to prove that Dr. Roylott did murder Julia.