Rhetorical Devices in The Importance of Being Earnest

Act III 1
"This dignified silence seems to produce an unpleasant effect...."   (Act III)

Wilde uses this line to indicate that a beat has passed without having to rely on stage direction to tell the actors and the audience that time has passed and that this silence has been painfully awkward for both of them. Wilde often uses his tone and diction to substitute for stage direction, which makes it easier for the reader to imagine the voices and facial expressions of these characters without having to see the play. This is part of the genius of Wilde's work.