Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness Topics for Further Study
by William Styron

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Topics for Further Study

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

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• Styron suggests that the onset of his severe depression came after he stopped drinking alcohol. Research the links between alcoholism and depression and discuss the ways in which the former may contribute to the latter.

• Write an essay exploring common psychological or physical diseases commonly associated with artists and writers.

• After interviewing people afflicted with emotional illness, write a short essay comparing their pain to the pain of those afflicted with physical illness. Draw on your own experience or that of people you know, if possible.

• Research the lives of Virginia Woolf, Randall Jarrell, and Vincent Van Gogh, then discuss what you see as the relationships between their emotional illnesses and their creative lives. In what ways do they influence each other?

• Read one of Styron’s novels such as Lie Down in Darkness or The Confessions of Nat Turner. Describe the tone of these novels. What, if any, connections can you make between Styron’s depression and the novels themselves. Keep in mind that Styron wrote that a dark mood has accompanied him through most of his life.