A rhetorical question is a figure of speech that is a question for which the answer is known in advance, or a question for which an answer is not required, since it is extremely obvious in advance. In other words, we can say that a rhetorical question is a statement expressed in an interrogative form.
A feature of such phrases is convention, that is, the use of the grammatical form and intonation of the question in sentences where this is essentially not required, due to which the phrase in which these phrases are used acquires a particularly emphasized shade that enhances its expressiveness.
What is a rhetorical question in examples:
- "And what Russian doesn't like driving fast?" N.V. Gogol
- "What's a knight without luck?" D'Artagnan
- "Am I my brother's keeper?" Cain
- "To be or not to be?" Hamlet
- "What to do?" Chernyshevsky
- "When is Friday already?" Folk
- "Why is the boss a fool?" Folk
- "Why did I drink yesterday?" Folk
So why is the question called rhetorical? In fact, everything is very simple. Oratory has been popular since ancient times. Even the ancient Greeks mastered the art of speech, calling this science rhetoric (ancient Greek ῥητωρική - "oratory" from ῥήτωρ - "orator").
Similar turns of speech that enhance its expressiveness are rhetorical exclamation and rhetorical address. Ancient orators viewed rhetorical figures as some deviations of speech from the natural norm, "an ordinary and simple form", a kind of artificial decoration of it. The modern vision, on the contrary, proceeds more from the fact that figures are a natural and integral part of human speech.
It was in the disputes that the names were invented for various turns of speech, including rhetorical turns. After all, we already use them in everyday life without even knowing how they are correctly called.