Civil Disobedience Questions and Answers
by Henry David Thoreau

Civil Disobedience book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How does Thoreau use rhetorical questions in his argument in "Civil Disobedience"?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write10,923 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Rhetorical questions are questions that have only one right answer. The following is a classic example of a rhetorical question: "Is the pope Catholic?" This question is not meant to get people scurrying to their cellphones with the sudden worry of "What? Is the current pope actually Catholic? Let me look that up!" Of course the pope is Catholic. There is only one answer to the question. The question is used to emphasize that the speaker or writer's arguments are self-evident and obvious. Likewise, a politician might end a plea for increasing public services to the elderly by asking his audience: "Do you love your mother?" This is not an invitation to ponder, "Hmm, do I really love my mother? Is she a good parent? Or is she perhaps an evil witch?" It is meant to solicit the single answer "yes." And, of course, if you love your mother, you will support programs for the elderly.

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion, and rhetorical questions are meant to persuade by making the writer's...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1,166 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write7,214 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pcmcdona eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write31 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial