A rhetorical question is a literary device employed by authors to create dramatic impact or to convey a point. They are not intended to be addressed immediately, unlike a conventional query. Instead, they are utilized as a persuasion tool to alter how an audience thinks about a certain issue. Rhetorical questions can be used in writing to draw attention to what is being said, to reveal character traits, and as narrative devices.
Rhetorical questions can also be called inquiry words or interrogation marks because they ask for information or opinion without explicitly stating so. For example, "Who is responsible for the deaths of X victims?" or "Is society moving too fast?". Questions like these allow readers to supply the answer themselves by considering each statement individually.
Writers often use rhetorical questions to engage their readers and grab their attention. Some examples include: "What would you do if you found a million dollars under the mattress?" or "How would you feel if you knew that someone was watching you?" The writer uses this technique to generate discussion around the topic at hand, especially when trying to persuade someone to take action.
As with any other tool in the author's toolbox, the use of rhetorical questions can be beneficial or detrimental depending on the situation. If an author needs to get their message across quickly but doesn't have time to craft a full-fledged argument, then using a rhetorical question may help them achieve this goal.
Rhetorical questions are a sort of figurative language—they carry an additional layer of meaning on top of their literal meaning. Rhetorical questions arise frequently in songs, speeches, and literature because they challenge the audience, provoke uncertainty, and assist underline concepts. They can also be used to make a point without being argued explicitly.
The most common type of rhetorical question is the closed question. With closed questions, there is only one right answer. The other options are not considered, so they're not presented as choices. For example, when asking someone where they live, an open-ended question is appropriate because it allows them to tell you something about themselves that no single place could possibly contain. A closed question, on the other hand, forces them to say either "home" or "not home", which eliminates any possibility of discussion.
Closed questions are useful for making your point quickly and decisively, but they cannot be answered with simple "yes" or "no". For example, asking if someone is married or not married will always get a "yes" or "no" response, but asking if someone is married or not married at home would allow them to explain what role marriage plays in their life outside of home.
Open questions are those that allow for more than one answer.
Rhetorical questions are a sort of figurative language—they carry an additional layer of meaning on top of their literal meaning. Rhetorical questions arise frequently in songs, speeches, and literature because they challenge the audience, provoke uncertainty, and assist underline concepts.
Three Reasons to Be Concerned About Rhetoric
Punctuation and Rhetorical Questions A question is rhetorical if and only if its purpose is to elicit an emotional response from the listener rather than to gain information. In other terms, a rhetorical inquiry is not a "genuine" query looking for a response. Rather, it is a device used to attract attention or make a point without begging for opinions. Examples include: "I ask you, my friends, whether this notional character deserves our support?" (Daniel Webster) "Is this man, who has been before the public so long and so extensively, as honest as we are? Is he capable of such crimes? I submit that he is not." (Andrew Jackson) "What does this say about democracy when one of the two major political parties is known as the KKK?" (Barack Obama)
In each case, the speaker is seeking to draw attention to something important but uncomfortable by using a question mark. Moral of the story: if you want to get people's attention, use a question mark.
Rhetorical Questions vs. Rhetorical Language The most prevalent usage of rhetorical now, however, is in combination with questions. A rhetorical question is one that is posed for effect rather than to find out the answer to a question concerning the art of speaking effectively. For example, "Does your job help people?" is a rhetorical question because no answer is expected, but it's still useful since it helps identify the speaker's purpose. Rhetorical language includes such terms as evasive, hyperbolic, and exaggerated statements that are used to make a point.
Evasiveness means using words that have more than one meaning to avoid giving an explicit answer. The person is avoiding saying "fine" or "not fine" since those two responses would not be appropriate under the circumstances. Evasiveness can also include using vague or ambiguous language so that the listener cannot guess the truth about your situation. For example, if asked where she was going, a girl leaving for school might say, "To work on my speech," even though she knows that she is really going on a date. Hyperbole is an exaggeration used to make a point.