Rhetorical questions research papers

Apart from these more obviously rhetorical uses, the question as a grammatical form has important rhetorical dimensions. For example, the rhetorical critic may assess the effect of asking a question as a method of beginning discourse: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" says the persona of Shakespeare's 18th sonnet. This kind of rhetorical question, in which one asks the opinion of those listening, is called anacoenosis . This rhetorical question has a definite ethical dimension, since to ask in this way generally endears the speaker to the audience and so improves his or her credibility or ethos . The technical term for rhetorical questions in general is erotema .
Related Figures

  • erotema
  • anacoenosis
    Asking the opinion or judgment of the judges or audience.
  • anthypophora
    A figure of reasoning in which one asks and then immediately answers one's own questions. Reasoning aloud. Anthypophora sometimes takes the form of asking the audience or one's adversary what can be said on a matter.
  • dianoea
    The use of animated questions and answers in developing an argument
  • aporia
    Deliberating with oneself as though in doubt over some matter; asking oneself (or rhetorically asking one's hearers) what is the best or appropriate way to approach something.
  • epiplexis
    Asking questions in order to chide, to express grief, or to inveigh.
  • exuscitatio
    Stirring others by one's own vehement feeling (sometimes by means of a rhetorical question).
  • pysma
    The asking of multiple questions successively (which would together require a complex reply).
  • ratiocinatio
    Reasoning (typically with oneself) by asking questions.
See Also
  • Tropes: Semantic Inversions
  • Invention
  • Stasis
  • Questions for determining the issue (status)
  • Progymnasmata: Thesis or Theme
  • Arguing two sides of a question: in utrumque partes
  • Basic questions for doing rhetorical analysis

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License .
Gideon O. Burton , Brigham Young University
Please cite "Silva Rhetoricae" ()
Trees | S ILVA R HETORICAE | Flowers


Rhetorical questions are questions that are asked without expecting an answer. These questions are meant to influence the audience or express a feeling. In literature, a rhetorical question can be humorous, obvious, or reflective. It can be one that is asked already knowing the answer, like in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice , when Shylock asks, 'I am a Jew. Hath / not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, / dimensions, senses…' These questions have obvious answers, but they are asked to get the audience to empathize with him.

Rhetorical questions research papers

rhetorical questions research papers


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