Shakespeare's Sonnets Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What is an interpretation of Sonnet 151, "Love is too young to know what concience is;" by William Shakespeare?

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The relationship depicted in this sonnet is that of the speaker and his "dark lady" or mistress, and it is a rather troubled one. In the opening two lines, he essentially says that love, in its young, early days, does not pause to have a conscience. Once that love develops, however, this is what helps us understand what a "conscience" really is. The speaker is saying that only once love is real, rather than an early, lustful fantasy, does one's conscience really start to prick. He asks his "gentle cheater," his beloved, not to make much of his transgressions in the suggestion that he has no conscience about them, because she herself might prove guilty of the same faults.

Indeed, the speaker seems fairly certain that his mistress is "betray[ing]" him—in other words, she is sleeping...

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