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PPHS English 332
American Modernism Project
American Romanticism Project
Aspects of American Romanticism
List of Romanticism Works
A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe
A Rainy Day by Nathaniel Hawthorne
A Walk at Sunset by William Cullen Bryant
Alone by Edgar Allan Poe
Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe
Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville
Dream-Land by Edgar Allan Poe
Eldorado by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleonora by Edgar Allan Poe
Forms of Heroes by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hop-Frog by Edgar Allan Poe
Ligeia by Edgar Allan Poe
Little Annie's Ramble by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe by Nathaniel Hawthorne
My Love by James Russell Lowell
My Low and Humble Home by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Paradise of Bachelors and the Tarturus of Maid by Herman Melville
Silence by Edgar Allan Poe
Spirits of the Dead by Edgar Allan Poe
The Ambitious Guest by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Balloon Hoax by Edgar Allan Poe
The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe
The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
The Bridal Ballad by Edgar Allan Poe
The Canterbury Pilgrims by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe
The City in the Sea by Edgar Allan Poe
The Coliseum by Edgar Allan Poe
The Darkened Mind by James Russell Lowell
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allan Poe
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
The Gold Bug by Edgar Allan Poe
The Happiest Day by Edgar Allan Poe
The Haunted Palace by Edgar Allan Poe
The Lake by Edgar Allan Poe
The Last Leaf by Oliver Wendell Holmes
The Lightning Rod Man by Herman Melville
The Man of the Crowd by Edgar Allan Poe
The Martyr by Herman Melville
The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe
The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe
The Premature Burial by Edgar Allan Poe
The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe
The Sleeper by Edgar Allan Poe
The Spectacles by Edgar Allan Poe
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether by Edgar Allan Poe
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
The Valley of Unrest by Edgar Allan Poe
To the River by Edgar Allan Poe
Ulalume by Edgar Allan Poe
What the Birds Said by John Greenleaf Whittier
William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe
The Balloon Hoax by Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe has been said for many years to be a very talented and imaginative writer, especially with poems and stories such as The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Purloined Letter, etc. Though many of his writings were poems and short stories, Poe surprisingly sent in an “article” in 1844 to The Sun, a newspaper in New York City. Unfortunately, he sends in a fake article, a story that is completely fictional and was brought up by his own imagination (Giordano). People did not find out that the story was merely Poe’s thoughts until soon afterwards. Despite the fact that people disliked him for his cruelty to others, readers after his time still find this particular work a well put impression on what is to happen after the Romanticist period.
Much of this article consists of Poe’s descriptions of a balloon named the “Victoria” as well as its maneuvers, capabilities, and tiny flaws. The next part of the article are the journals. The journals are said to be written by the balloon inventor Mr. Monck Mason as well as Mr. Harrison Ainsworth, the author of Jack Sheppard. Overall, the journey is said to be from England to Charleston S.C., and that the voyage is later accomplished “without difficulty” in less than 75 days (Poe).
Critics from everywhere research more about the history of aircrafts more than anything else when it comes to Poe’s fake article on a flying balloon. What makes readers interested in this story is the fact that the story first got published in 1844, and the first transportable aircrafts were invented in the early 1900s (Giordano). People see this fact as another reason why Edgar Allan Poe has a brilliant imagination. Many readers who have studied Romanticism and Dark Romanticism before know that one’s imagination was required during that literary period (Langley). Getting back to Poe’s design of the balloon, no one has ever heard of a story where people have crossed the Atlantic Ocean by the air before. Such stories of these particular adventures did not become well respected until Jules Verne came into the literary scene twenty years later (D'Ammassa). In other words, this particular article introduced many common readers to Poe’s contributions in new Romanticist imagination (Giordano).
Much of Poe's imagination consists of life experiences that he had early before. When it comes to this story, there is not much mentioned, especially when it comes to the ideas for the balloon itself. The fact that Poe was with the army in South Carolina inspired him to make the fictional balloon destination take place in Charleston S.C. (Sova, “Poe...”). When it comes to the characters in the story, real names such as Monck Mason, William Henson and author Mr. Harrison Ainsworth were used in order to make readers believe that the story was true (Sova, “The…”).
Despite the fact that Poe uses his imagination to his fullest in the article/short story, his imagination is unfortunately the only thing he uses for the story. One huge concern that many readers would have if they were to compare it to many of Edgar Allan Poe’s more popular works is the fact that not much human mistakes and emotion take place in the fictional story. Almost every story that Poe has ever made consisted of people making a ton of physical as well as psychological mistakes. In other words, mistakes that would lead to strong emotion as well as psychological sickness. Though many of Poe’s stories consist of this, the rest of the reactions that take place in other stories such as The Bridal Ballad or Annabel Lee were formed due to the loss of an individual. Most of the losses that are written in Edgar Allan Poe’s stories are normally not the character’s faults. Poe instead blames the losses on nature itself. Though readers can make similarities on how the minor flaws of the balloon are based on nature, those particular descriptions are what made the whole story have its main flow and mood.
Another thing that can strike many the readers’ attention is what happens at the end of the article/short story. Something very unusual takes place in the story that does not normally take place in Edgar Allan Poe’s writing. When it came to the balloon as well as the people who were on board the balloon, there happened to be “no serious accident [that] occurred. [Also,] No real danger was at any time apprehended. [Lastly, the] balloon was exhausted and secured without trouble…” (Poe). Although many of the characters in the story have written in their journals about their own doubts while in flight, the fact that the balloon as well as the characters makes it safe and sound to Charleston S.C. may not represent a proper Dark Romanticist ending. Though there may be descriptive reasoning in the entire article (a trait that would succeed in being a Romanticist story,) the only other problem the article has compared to Romanticism is the fact that the Balloon showed a progress in society (Langley). Poe mentions in the beginning of the article how “the air, as well as the earth and the ocean, has been subdued by science, and will become a common and convenient highway for mankind” (Poe).
Though the story as a whole is very unusual compared to Poe’s other works, it still is able to fascinate readers during and after the Romanticist period. Despite the fact that The Balloon Hoax is more of an article than a proper Romanticism story, Dawn B. Sova believed that “rather than viewing each poem and each story as simply the expression of Poe’s emotions and mental state, critics now acknowledge Poe as an artist whose stories, poems, and essays exhibit his creative talents and convey a sense of modernism in literature that remains relevant more than a century and a half after his death” (Sova, “Poe…”) Surprisingly, Poe enjoyed the fact that more than 50,000 people had their own minds tricked by his article. Why would he do such a thing just so that he could be able to feel satisfied in the expense of the reader’s misunderstood attention towards the disguised article (Sova, “The…”)? If one was to assume the reason for this, it would be so that Edgar could get more attention for his abilities in writing.
Even though he felt satisfied by having fooled readers, many publishers wanted much less from him afterwards for they knew that he could not be trusted in the literary world (Sova, "The..."). As for readers in the future, it has been mentioned before in Sova's quote how Poe's "
creative talents" "convey a sense of modernism in literature that remains relevant more than a century and a half after his death” (Sova, “Poe…”). Though more people have taken interest in this article when Poe died, the article was still able to convey the sense of Romanticism for his imagination at the time was very strong.
Barney, Brett, and Lisa Paddock, eds. "Romanticism." Encyclopedia of American Literature: The Age of Romanticism and Realism, 1816–1895, vol. 2, Revised Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. 10 Dec. 2010. Web. <
D'Ammassa, Don. "Verne, Jules." Encyclopedia of Adventure Fiction. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 11 Dec. 2010. <
Giordano, Robert. “The Balloon Hoax.” Edgar Allan Poe. Web. 11 Dec. 2010.
Langley, John. “Romanticism 1800-1860.” Mr. Langley's Digital Classroom. 24 Oct. 2010. Microsoft Powerpoint File. Web. 11 Dec. 2010. <
Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Balloon Hoax." Edgar Allan Poe. Web. 11 Dec. 2010.
Sova, Dawn B. "Poe, Edgar Allan." Critical Companion to Edgar Allan Poe: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. 8 Nov. 2010. Web.
Sova, Dawn B. "'The Balloon-Hoax'." Critical Companion to Edgar Allan Poe: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 9 Dec. 2010. <
Werlock, Abby H. P. "Poe, Edgar Allan." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 11 Dec 2010. <
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