Essay Darkness Visible by William Styron

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To Educate or to Advocate?

When I first set out to propose a project, I wasn’t sure what topic I wanted to conquer. Therefore, I quickly jumped when the professor suggested reading the memoir, “Darkness Visible” by William Styron. I have enjoyed all the class readings so far, I even did my last project on another memoir, and thought that reading a fresh perspective regarding mental illness would be engaging and inspiring.

Unfortunately, I began reading “Darkness Visible” with preconceived notions and wrongly assumed that this memoir, like “The Last Time I Wore a Dress” by Daphne Scholinski, would be filled with charismatic descriptions of life in a mental hospital and the activities (or lack there of) surrounding day-to-day life.
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Although a light read, her experience is heart-breaking as she is abused at home, institutionalized, and instead of being treated for her depression, doctor’s attempt to “feminize” her with eye shadow and lipstick. She is the type of advocate that makes noise in a silence because she tells a tale that would otherwise be unknown.

On the other hand, Styron also has another goal. His goal is to educate. He wants readers to stop stigmatizing depression, stop assuming they know what it is, and what it feels like to have it. Similarly, Styron wants to educate people about depression and emphasize that it is only imaginable for those experiencing it. Unlike Scholinski, to Styron, depression is not trauma, but rather a disease, a mental illness with an unknown, underlying cause. Through research about the disease (included in his memoir), and accounts of his personal experience, the reader becomes educated about what it means to be depressed and that it is certainly not a “bad day” that will pass on by. Styron wants to create awareness and buzz and his goal to educate is certainly wholly achieved.

In order to achieve those goals, both authors implement different literary styles. Throughout “The Last Time I Wore a Dress,” Daphne Scholinksi

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