Over fall break, I saw the movie Quiz Show, which is about a television game show that is tailored to keep the public’s interest by a scam in which certain contestants know all the answers before they get asked the questions on the air. The plot of the movie revolves around two conflicting stories: that of the game show producers, who claim that everyone’s making money and no one’s getting hurt; and that of the federal investigator, who says that television is presenting the public with a false sense of reality. Ultimately, the court has to decide whose story has more narrative coherence and narrative fidelity. It is a lack of coherence on the part of the game show’s producers and contestants that spark the investigation in the first place. The federal investigator recognizes there is something that doesn’t quite fit in their story. Although the investigator’s story does not seem quite believable to people at first, he manages to convince people that his story has coherence and, just as important, that his story has fidelity. That is, the TV viewing public can identify with it because they are the ones being abused.
C.S. Lewis is a masterful storyteller, and the Chronicles of Narnia are no exception. I would argue that these are truly "good stories"--in the most Fisher-esque sense of the idea.
Lewis presents a very coherent set of stories. While the characters, places, and events may not be "of this world"—not the rational world we live in, they are very consistant with each other. Internally, they all interact in the world of Narnia. True, it's not the human world that we live in, but it doesn't claim to be. Lewis creates a set of rules that are uniquely Namian. His story is so consistent that it makes the fictional world seem quite plausible and realistic.
Additionally, Lewis somehow creates a great sense of narrative fidelity. While it's a fictional world, Lewis skillfully creates parallels to our common human reality. The characters relate directly to characters in my life (including myself). For instance, I can identify with doubting Susan as she grows out of her child-like faith. Yet, I long for the innocent passion of Lucy and the nobleness of Peter.
Last week I told a friend that we had to watch the movie Don Quixote Man from La Mancha because it is such a great movie. After reading Fisher's theory, I would like to set out on my own quest to see whether Fischer would consider this story to be what he would call a "good" narrative or if we are all just adopting a "bad" tale.
Narrative coherence is the first criteria. Don Quixote acts consistently from the beginning until the end. He acts as an insane individual who wants to restore knight-errantry and chivalrous values back to the world. All of his actions seem to have coherence because they follow the code of knighthood. His character at times doesn't "hang together" in the same fashion that his actions do. However, this can establish coherence because it reinforced his insane nature and his continual pursuit of his goals. It also points out the reliability in his unpredictable nature.
Narrative fidelity refers to whether or not the story "rings true" to the hearer. I believe that the character of Don Quixote does strike a responsive chord with the majority of listeners. Don Quixote longs for a sense of beauty and purpose. He wants to reinstate chivalrous knighthood to the world. He sticks with these beliefs and feelings until his death. These values of persistence, good will towards others, and acting morally right are all values that hearers can relate to. Everyone longs to act honestly and to try to help the world. Perhaps we aren't as idealistic as Don Quixote, but he acts and conducts himself in an ideal way. His value system rings true to the "life we would most like to live", therefore, I think that the story can be considered to be a good story.