The hamlet insanity debate rules Format for Speech

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  • Rules

  • Format for Speech

  • Format for Debate

How will we DEBATE THIS?

  • Students will go to the front of the room and present arguments exploring the sanity of Hamlet

  • Each speaker will have three minutes to present his/her argument and one minute of mandatory questioning time.

When student is giving his/her speech?

  • Student will be permitted to read essay.

  • When student has concluded speech and time is left, the student will yield remaining time for questions. That time will be added to the mandatory one minute for your classmates to ask you “on-task” questions.

  • Example– Speaker uses 2 minutes

  • 1 minute left over will be added to mandatory 1 minute questioning time making the total time for questioning—2 minutes—total 4 minutes


  • We will observe a modified version of ROBERT’S RULES OF ORDER…

  • In order to ask a question, a student must raise his/her name card and be recognized.

  • When recognized by the scorer (me), the student must stand and ask the speaker for permission to “question” him/her.

How do I ask for permission?

  • After the questioner has stood, he/she must say-

  • “May I ask the speaker a question? ”

  • “May I ask the speaker a friendly

  • question?”

  • “May I ask the speaker a series of

  • questions?” Up to three questions.

What happens when the speaker’s three minutes are up?

  • Questioning time may be extended by a minute if a motion is made and seconded?

  • After the second, the chamber will vote on the motion to extend questioning time.

  • If the motion carries, the questioning time will be extended.

  • If the motion fails, we will ask for our next speaker.

At the end of class, we will “rise to both questions” and vote on HAMLET’s sanity…

  • If the votes concerning Hamlet’s sanity passes by 2/3rds, the debate is over….

  • If the vote fails, we will continue to debate….

How are we graded? WORTH 200 pts

  • 100 pts will be given for delivery and effectiveness of both the written and oral speech

  • 100 pts will be based on each student’s participation in the questioning/congress discussion

How will the CONGRESS discussion be graded?

  • Any off-task questions, rude remarks, and off-task private conversations will result in a 10 pt deduction.

  • Every time a student asks a question/or series of questions will be recorded and graded on a scale of 1-5. Five is the highest score and will given for questions that generate additional analysis of the play.

How are students recognized for questioning?

  • Students will primarily be recognized based on whom raises his/her card first.

  • Also, students will be assigned to a speaker priority list….meaning once you have asked a question you move down the list—those who have not asked questions move up.

Important NOTES!!

  • Failure to pay attention will result in a low participation grade.

  • Rude comments, snide remarks, goofing, and general wasting of time will result in a low score

Moving on to the speech—essay….

  • You may use first person in your speech.

  • You must have an organize argument using the text to prove your point.

Structure of your essay--SPEECH

  • Introduction

    • Statement of topic
    • Explanation of topic
    • Statement of your stance.
    • Preview of Reasons
    • (Sample statement of topic)
    • I stand before you today to discuss the sanity
    • and legal culpability of Prince Hamlet
    • concerning the death of (Polonius/Claudius).

Explanation of topic

  • You should discuss the topic and how it relates to the overall play.

  • In Hamlet by William Shakespeare, the central character is involved in the deaths of three characters. While by his own admission and witness accounts verify his involvement, there is some question as to the mental capacity of Hamlet at the time each death occurred. In short, was Hamlet of sound mind when he participated in the untimely accidents?

Statement of Stance

  • You must clearly state your argument concerning the topic.

  • Based on the information presented through both direct and indirect characterization, I stand before you today to assert that Hamlet was (mentally competent/ incompetent) to stand trial for the death of (Polonius/Claudius).

Preview—briefly mention one or two reasons why you think Hamlet was sane or insane.

  • The first reason why I believe Hamlet was


  • Reason One

    • Statement of Reason (The first reason I think ______)
    • Explanation of Reason
    • Prove Reason with FACTS, EXAMPLES.
  • (Repeat this structure for reason 2)

  • V. Closing—repeat stance and topic.

Reason #1

  • The first reason why I believe Hamlet is legally competent (is not legally competent) to stand trial for the death of Polonius centers around the very definition of legal insanity. According to the Black’s Law Dictionary, the term legal sanity refers “a mental disorder of such severity as to render its victim incapable of managing his affairs or conforming to social standards.


  • Reason One

    • Statement of Reason (The first reason I think ______)
    • Explanation of Reason
    • Prove Reason with FACTS, EXAMPLES.
  • (Repeat this structure for reason 2)

  • V. Closing—repeat stance and topic.

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