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What's the meaning of the last line of this extract from Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona?

Valentine. This is the gentleman I told your ladyship
Had come along with me, but that his mistress
Did hold his eyes lock'd in her crystal looks.

Silvia. Belike that now she hath enfranchised them
Upon some other pawn for fealty.

Valentine. Nay, sure, I think she holds them prisoners still.

Silvia. Nay, then he should be blind; and, being blind
How could he see his way to seek out you?

Valentine. Why, lady, Love hath twenty pair of eyes.

Thurio. They say that Love hath not an eye at all.

Valentine. To see such lovers, Thurio, as yourself:
Upon a homely object Love can wink.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Wink here has the sense close the eyes - the same sense is in play when we say that an authority winks at a violation of some regulation, pretends not to see it.

To paraphrase this very "conceited" dialogue in More or Less Fully Modern English:

Valentine:  Love has twenty pairs of eyes.
Thurio:   What I've always heard is that Love has no eyes at all.
Valentine:  Well, of course when it looks at you; Love can close its eyes when
       it sees something ugly.

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I've always heard that love is blind, but I think it's Off Topic Lit Crit anyway. –  FumbleFingers May 21 '13 at 15:25
    
I recognise the phrase wink at with the sense you give, from 19th century writers such as W S Gilbert, but I would regard it as obsolete. I know the OED doesn't mark it as such, but that entry hasn't been updated since 1926. –  Colin Fine May 21 '13 at 16:32
    
@FumbleFingers I think this is just asking for literal meaning, not a critical interpretation; the fact that it appears in a stage work (not a literary work!) is incidental. –  StoneyB May 21 '13 at 16:34
    
@ColinFine 2012: "While the administration winks at the Muslim Brotherhood and prostrates itself before Islamist audiences, Obama lamely claims that his detractors are wrong..." -Accuracy in Media,"Students will get demerits for dust on their desks or a skirt that rides up when they kneel down, but the administration winks at them joyriding 20 mph over the speed limit and rolling through stop signs." -Stuff Fundies Like –  StoneyB May 21 '13 at 16:38
    
Did "homely" mean "ugly" in Shakespearean England? –  User58220 May 22 '13 at 0:14

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