Max Havelaar, a Dutch colonial administrator. An idealist who is deeply concerned with justice for all, he arrives in Java to find conditions among the Javanese laborers worse than he had anticipated. Finding that the Dutch, who rule through the Javanese nobility, have acquiesced in the plundering and mistreatment of the laborers by their native masters, he attempts by persuasion and example to improve the situation while he gathers information for a report to his superiors. When his report is complete, he presents it to one indifferent official after another until he finds himself relieved of his job and forsaken by the government he has served.
Radhen Adhipatti Karta Natta Negara
Radhen Adhipatti Karta Natta Negara, the native regent of Lebak. A relatively poor man with a large family and appearances to keep up, he extorts, under Dutch protection, goods and services from his people. When Max Havelaar lodges an official protest against him, the Javanese is upheld by the Dutch, who denounce Havelaar for his pains.
Tine, Max Havelaar’s devoted wife and champion.
Mr. Verbrugge, the controller serving under Max Havelaar. Although he is well aware of the exploitation of the Javanese by the Dutch, he is afraid to risk the security of his job by trying to fight against the complacent colonial administration.
Mr. Slimering, a Dutch colonial official with whom Max Havelaar lodges a protest against the injustices suffered by the Javenese laborers. Slimering denounces the protest in favor of the corrupt native chiefs.
Saïdyah, a young Javanese whose story is used as an example of colonial injustice. His father loses his possessions by extortion, and his betrothed is murdered by Dutch troops; Saïdyah himself is killed later.
Batavus Drystubble, a Dutch coffee broker of Amsterdam. He does not believe that the Javanese are mistreated.
Shawlman, Batavus Drystubble’s schoolmate, a writer who brings to him the manuscript of the story of Max Havelaar.