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The Once-Ler

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Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
~ The Once-ler to Ted.

The Once-Ler is the main antagonist/villain protagonist of Dr.Seuss' The Lorax, being the enigmatic personification of greedy environment destroying businesses.


Now listen here, Dad! All you do is yap-yap and say, Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad! Well, I have my rights, sir, and I'm telling you I intend to go on doing just what I do! And, for your information, you Lorax, I'm figgering on biggering, and BIGGERING, and BIGGERING and BIGGERING...! Turning MORE Truffula Trees into Thneeds which everyone, EVERYONE, EVERYONE needs!
~ The Once-Ler showing his true nature.

The Once-Ler is a man who came to a bright and magical forest of "Truffula Trees" long ago to set up a business making garments called "Thneeds" out of the trees' fluffy foliage. The titular Lorax appears from the stump of the first tree he chops down and insists that he stop, but the Once-Ler dismisses him, saying that he has only chopped down one tree out of thousands and is doing no harm. However, the Thneed business quickly grows in size and popularity and more and more trees are cut down to make more of them as the shop grows into a factory, and the forest starts to become more and more damaged and polluted, driving off the creatures that live there. The Lorax continues begging the Once-Ler to stop and showing him the damage he is doing, but is still ignored. Eventually, all the Truffula Trees are gone and so are all the animals and, since no more Thneeds can be made, the Once-Ler's business ends. As the very last Truffula Tree is cut down, the Lorax "lifts" himself into the air and vanishes, having nothing left to protect, and leaves behind only a stone platform with the word "UNLESS" on it.

Years later, the Once-Ler is an old man living all alone in what used to be the Truffula forest and has come to regret his actions. A young boy comes wandering to his house and, after telling his story to him, the Once-Ler gives the boy the very last Truffula seed in existence, telling him that if he plants it and takes care of it, the forest, the animals and the Lorax may eventually return.

Most of the Once-Ler's body is never shown throughout the book. Only his hands and eyes are ever seen. This was done so he could be seen as more of an abstract personification of corporate greed. This is used in the book and the old short film that was around 22 minutes long.

But in the Lorax movie, he's shown fully, not only as a young man in the flashback that comprises much of the story, but at the end when the Truffula seed is planted and he finally emerges from his old house.

While both versions share many strong similarites, both the short film and the movie since both are based in the book, many things were changed too, the most controversial to some was showing The Once-ler´s face in the movie. But the personality of the Once-ler both as a villain and as a former and later hero still resambles a lot of things taken from the book in both "films".

The Once-ler as a young man is portrayed generally as a very optimistic and sometimes a bit thoughtful person in the adaptations and original book, but that does not last long as he becomes more desconsiderated and is obviously taken over by greed.

On the book and short film he is considerated a total and comepletely centered villain. While in the movie his reedement is also just as, if not even more noticable than in the other adaptation and original, it is clear that he was not made entirely the bad guy in the film, leaving the blame almost entirely in some other created character that did not appear in the book. This, just like the other changes, seemed to bother a lot of people when it comes to the moral of the story The Once-ler is in, that anyone could be bad if it took things too far.

"After all, if there is one thing that is left clear, is that no matter how much evil The Once-ler may have caused, it could happen to anyone as well, right?"