I am perplexed by this sentence in the book, because at least in my opinion, “was” and "obtruded" here are in conficlt. Also I think the right usage should be "he obtruded on my notice again most painfully"; or regardless of the context, in correct grammar, it may also be put as "he was again most painfully obtruding on my notice". Am I right? I beg your answer and explanation.

His resentment was in proportion to the distress of his circumstances--and he was doubtless as violent in his abuse of me to others as in his reproaches to myself. After this period every appearance of acquaintance was dropped. How he lived I know not. But last summer he was again most painfully obtruded on my notice."I must now mention a circumstance which I would wish to forget myself, and which no obligation less than the present should induce me to unfold to any human being. Having said thus much, I feel no doubt of your secrecy.

2 Answers 2


The novel was written in 1813, and so the language can seem odd or stylized when compared with more recent fiction.

In this case the author uses the passive tense, "he was obtruded (by something)", instead of the active, "he obtruded on my notice". As suits his upper-class manners, Mr. Darcy is being polite, using the passive tense to suggest the main actor (in this case, Mr. Wickham) is not intentionally being rude, but is instead rude due to unspecified circumstance.

The language used by the upper-class British is often rigidly polite. It's boorish to insult someone directly (although perfectly fine to insult someone indirectly, preferably with wit and charm), so "was painfully obtruded on my notice" is all Darcy permits himself, at least in a letter to a young lady, rather than more directly saying something like, "He greatly annoyed me by showing up unannounced".

As a side note, you might find amusing these examples of witty British (and some American) insults: High Class Put-Downs


It is perfectly correct to use the verb to be (past tense 'was') followed by a participle ('obtruded') in this way. The passive voice is used to show interest in the person or object that experiences an action rather than the person or object that performs the action. In other words, the most important thing or person becomes the subject of the sentence.


  • I still don't understand, for I can't see any PASSIVE VOICE here. It is more common to say "a sound from the reception hall obtruded on his thoughts" or "I felt unable to obtrude my private sorrow on anyone". As such, in this case, even if in passive voice, I think it more likely to be "my notice was obtruded by him again most painfully". Can you explain it further? Thanks a lot.
    – sdasd tont
    May 1, 2018 at 16:54
  • 1
    He did not 'óbtrude' upon her notice, which would have been active; he was obtruded upon her notice by circumstances. May 1, 2018 at 17:37

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