It is disappointing to find a wholly unsupported claim such as the one made by the author of this note regarding the conversation between Vladimir and Estragon early in Act I about execution of two criminals who were crucified on either side of Jesus. Vladimir explains that only one writer includes a conversation between Jesus and the two men, the apparent repentance of one of the men, and Jesus’ promise the man would be with Jesus in paradise that very day.
Luke mentions the story, the other three writers mention the men but not the conversation.
The author of this note seems to imply that the fact that only one of the four gospels includes the story is somehow cause to doubt the truthfulness of their entire accounts, suggesting each writer presents “entirely different versions of the story” with language chosen to suggest deeper, more deliberate errors and omissions may exist. This is simply not at all the case as a close reading of the four accounts will clearly demonstrate, and the deliberate choice of hyperbolic language and implication of facts not present on a matter of faith has not place being included in this note or on this website. Students coming to SparkNotes in order to gain a deeper understanding of a work of literature or philosophy should not have to be on guard for the hidden, unproven agenda the writer of this note seems to be working to advance.
Additionally, this writer characterizes Vladimir as sharing this belief and somehow finding it cause to doubt the reliability of the gospel writers when nothing could be further from the truth. Vladimir finds hope in the accounts and is more optimistic on the possibility of his own salvation after calculating the odds of salvation for himself at being one in eight, odds not entirely too long for a man in Vladimir’s position. (Two men, in four gospels, with one account of salvation.)
Beckett took the dialogue from a quote he erroneously attributed to Augustine: “Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned.” He said in an interview shortly after Waiting for Godot was staged that he had read the quote in Augustine but the attribution has never been found in any of Augustine’s writing (
Perhaps a clarifying comment explaining to students that when engaging in literary criticism in an academic environment the writer is expected to limit their observations to those that can clearly be demonstrated specifically in the text. Agendas requiring exaggeration and untrue have no place on this website or as part of what should be an academic discussion.