Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame, and start not so wildly from my affair.

It’s not so wild what Hamlet’s just said previously. He’s bantering. Very logically, it would seem to me. I have met many people who DID need to put their discourse into a frame, that did veer wildly. Hamlet does a good demonstration of that behavior elsewhere in the play, particularly when he’s talking with Polonius. His cloud analysis, for example, is much more wild than the joking suggestion that Guildenstern should go tell the doctor that Claudius is choleric.

It makes me think about how people so often see others according to how they expect to see them, rather than how they really are. There’s a study with rats where they told people that their rat was especially clever or stupid and held them, and the rats then performed better or worse in a maze depending on people’s perceptions of them.  Which is a slightly different thing – because Guildenstern thinking Hamlet is crazy doesn’t make Hamlet crazy but it does make Guildenstern interpret everything Hamlet says as being crazy, even when it really makes sense.

Expand this to the effect this idea might have on children, though, and we can see how kids would start to take on the qualities that are projected on to them. It happens with race, too. There was a story on This American Life about the biases that get pre-school African American kids sent home while white pre-schoolers don’t. You get sent home enough times for doing nothing – you’re gonna want to just go ahead and DO something. So black children get sent home more than white children and suddenly there’s a reputation.

Put a frame around that discourse.


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