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

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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...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 10, 2020