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A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in which a question is posed not for the sake of gaining answers. Generally, a question is asked with an expectation to receive an answer. But a rhetorical question is asked only to create an effect.
  • They are questions that have an underlying meaning over the literal meaning, which gives it a philosophical touch. They make the readers ponder and think about a subject. They raise doubts and re-emphasise on a particular idea.
  • Rhetorical questions do not require a question mark at the end. For example, when someone asks 'Who do you think you are', they are actually not waiting for an answer as to who that person thinks themselves to be. It is to emphasise the fact that they do not have to think so high about themselves. Therefore rhetorical questions are also asked to state the obvious.
  • Is Life but a dream
  • Who wouldn't want to become a millionaire
  • What is in a name
  • How could I be so stupid
Example of a poem with rhetorical questions:
What's love got to do, got to do with it
What's love but a second hand emotion
What's love got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken
Rhetorical question from the poem "The House on Elm Street":
  • How could this be
  • What happened inside that house