Aporia Examples


When a character or speaker appears to question his or her actions or how to proceed in action, it is called aporia. When characters or speakers use aphoria, the questions are rhetorical. They do not expect the audience to answer, and sometimes, the speaker is not really in doubt at all-just wants to raise the question to the audience.

Examples of Aporia:

From Shakespeare's Hamlet:

To be, or not to be? That is the question-

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And, by opposing, end them?

From Wordsworth's "The Barberry-Tree":

If living sympathy be theirs

And leaves and airs,

The piping breeze and dancing tree

Are all alive and glad as we:

Whether this be truth or no

I cannot tell, I do not know;

Nay-whether now I reason well,

I do not know, I cannot tell.

Bill Clinton, at Democratic National Convention in 2012:

The Republicans call it Obamacare and say it's a government takeover of health care that they'll repeal. Are they right?

From the Bible, in Luke 16: Then the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do?
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