Potentiality in Joyce

The idea of potentiality is one Joyce uses to his advantage in his novel, but not in the typical manner one would expect. In the beginning of his argument, Lukacs describes the human phenomena of potentiality, which he deems to be “richer than actual life”, and that “innumerable possibilities for man’s development development are imaginable” (1220). However, this seemingly positive possibility for the new also presents a flip side, as there is an [oscillation] between melancholy and fascination” within the subjectivity of man. Lukacs continues: “When the world declines to realize these possibilities, this melancholy becones tinged with contempt” (1220). This concept is illustrated within Dubliners, as Joyce realizes the potentiality of the characters in to such a negative degree that he leaves the reader to assume they will indeed live up to the most negative and melancholic potentiality. He, however, furthermore achieves this melancholic attitude toward the future with the abrupt endings to the stories of the lives he describes. Joyce takes Lukacs’ idea to the extreme: there is no resolution, just potentiality.