Quick, you forgot to do last night’s reading, and you have a pop quiz next period—what do you do? Duh! Sparknotes. (Or maybe LitCharts for you upperclassmen who need line-by-line analysis.) Now, not to discredit those wonderful sites—they’ve gotten me through a number of quizzes and essays, as well—but they have been known to omit a few critical plot points, and sometimes they don’t get everything quite right. So I give you this list: the unabridged, unadulterated, 100 percent factual, real spoilers for all of your favorite English class reads.
- Romeo and Juliet: In this classic Shakespearean tragedy about forbidden love, Romeo finds himself questioning his identity when, after introducing the two at a fateful party, his first love Juliet leaves him for another woman—his other first love, Rosaline.
- Things Fall Apart: This eye-opening novel chronicles the life of Okonkwo, a famous Nigerian warrior who, after the arrival of European imperialists, leaves the village he grew up in to seek his fortune in America. There, he discovers his true passion for cultivating yams, the ultimate cash crop. By the end of the novel, Okonkwo has fully accomplished his dream and is credited with beginning the Transatlantic Yam Trade.
- The Great Gatsby: This classic about the fallacy of the American Dream follows the conniving protagonist, Nick, as he slowly weasels his way into the inner circle of eccentric billionaire Jay Gatsby only to perform the con of the century. After convincing Gatsby to change his will by leaving all of his money to his former lover Daisy Buchanan, Nick proceeds to kill Gatsby and run off with Daisy and the money, which they use to finance an up-and-coming jazz band.
- The Quiet American: This allegorical novel follows a British reporter named Thomas Fowler who is accused of murdering his rival, Alden Pyle, when the two are living in Vietnam. Unbeknownst to the Vietnamese authorities, Pyle actually faked his own death with Fowler’s help, and at the story’s end, the two friends leave Asia to travel the world together spreading the joys of love and harmony.
- Macbeth: In Shakespeare’s vision of 11th-century Scotland, the title character Macbeth, who grows power-hungry after hearing an auspicious prophecy about his future, murders the king of Scotland in order to replace him as ruler. By the end of the play, Macbeth is convinced of his own invincibility because the prophecy said he couldn’t be killed by “a man of woman born.” Unfortunately for Macbeth, the only character more ambitious than himself is his wife, Lady Macbeth, who, in an alarming turn of events, kills her husband in his sleep to claim the throne for herself.