A Rhetorical question is a statement that is phrased in the form of a question, but for which the speaker expects no answer. Either the speaker expects to answer the question himself, or believes that only one answer is possible. A true question engages the listener's attention by requiring listener to think of an answer. A rhetorical question is a manipulative technique which seeks to gain the listener's attention by posing as a question, even though the speaker is not interested in getting an answer and does not intend to conduct a dialog.
Examples of rhetorical questions:
- "Would you like to swing on a star/Carry moonbeams home in a jar/And be better off than you are/Or would you rather be a mule?"
- "You all did see that on the Lupercal/I thrice presented him a kingly crown,/Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?"
- "Are you aware that the candidate is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert?"
Notes and references
- Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, "Swinging on a Star," 1944
- Shakespeare, William, The Life and Death of Julius Caesar", Act III, Scene 2
- George Smathers, campaigning against Claude Pepper in the 1950s (attributed)