The chapters that follow have a twofold purpose. They trace some developments in dramatic form which preceded the "magical" structure exemplified in Part One by The Winter's Tale. But a complementary aim is to examine how a few plays objectify the meanings of creation in their characters' experience. Shakespeare commonly uses "create" to signify the generation of identity, as in Lear, when Goneril "makes" Edmund her husband: "I create thee here/My lord, and master" (5.3.78). But this is only the most transparent of examples. Repeatedly the plays dramatize their characters' creative faculties, and the complex moral consequences of "conceiving" the world.
The protagonist of the Sonnets is overtly a poet; in the verses before us his every breath creates. By his vows he strives to make love in a rite which transcends the parties to it. When magic falters in the Sonnets, however, the poet begins to resemble a dramatic character. He becomes supremely conscious of role-playing (Sonnet 138) and the personal limits of love. Even the mild worries of Sonnet 23 express the problematical relationship between identity and creation:
As an unperfect actor on the stage Who with his fear is put beside his part . . . So I, for fear of trust, forget to say The perfect ceremony of love's rite. . . .
The plays themselves abound in characters for whom creation is explicitly art. There are Peter Quince's rude mechanicals, Hamlet the author-director of "The Mousetrap," and Pericles' Marina, who
sings like one immortal, and she dances As goddesslike to her admired lays;