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Publication Date

Spring 2014

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies


Anne Marie Todd


ethos, speaking for others, The Lorax

Subject Areas

Communication; Environmental education


Over the years, growing concerns for the environment have increased discourse regarding the problems and solutions to environmental crises. Messages in popular culture have implications for public perceptions of the environment and, as a result, impact how we interact with and understand our natural surroundings. While we understand the impact of rhetorical strategies in a general sense, research is needed when exploring how speaker credibility influences environmental messages.

This thesis explores two concepts: how credibility impacts environmental messages and the concept of speaking for the environment. I explore these concepts through a media-centered rhetorical criticism of the film, The Lorax (2012). I analyze seven selected scenes, drawing on McCroskey's (1966) scale of ethos and Spangle and Knapp's (1996) study of tactics and appeals. The analysis reveals several tactics used by the two main characters, the Lorax and Once-ler, to establish their credibility. How the Lorax and Once-ler establish or fail to establish credibility impacts the future state of the environment. Ethos is a key communication concept in speaking for the environment, as the way we speak and represent the environment has consequences for how we interact with the natural world.