Bali IB DP English

“Coffee with Max Havelaar”: the mental universe of a coffee broker, 37 Lauriergracht.

In Coffee with Max Havelaar on 16/04/2009 at 21:11

Host: Welcome back ladies and gentlemen! Now…we’ve looked at the characters of Max Havelaar, Saïja and Adinda, as well as Scarfman, but I feel we should take a better look inside the mind of Batavus Droogstoppel, coffee broker from Last & Co, and resident of 37 Lauriergracht in Amsterdam – as he so fondly and frequently reminds us. 


Host: Now, now, I realize most of the readers do not get the best impressions of him when he introduces himself, but upon my word, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a person quite like him! Multatuli, how would you describe this truly unique character which you have created? 

Multatuli:  Batavus Droogstoppel, as we know, is a thorough outsider in this novel, not only by means of setting, but especially in the manner in which he speaks to you as readers. If you run through the novel, you will soon observe that there is hardly an indication of changing perspectives.

Host: Yes, and I thought that was one of the characteristics which really ‘stylized’ the structure.   

Multatuli: However, Droogstoppel’s style of writing is so bold and forward, that once we are accustomed to it, we can immediately recognize him in the story. Now, in terms of his character and personality, I assume that most readers would perceive him simply as the complete opposite of Max Havelaar himself.

Host: In what ways?

Multatuli: Well, first of all, he is unconditionally self-concerned.

“Later on, I heard that the Greek had given him a drubbing, but because it’s a firm principle of mine never to meddle with things that don’t concern me, I ran away immediately.” – 30

Then, we know he is extremely judgmental of people around him. He carries a very closed-minded nature, and finally, he is considerably (and at times, far too much) truthful.  

Host: There is something else which I noticed. In the novel, Droogstoppel seems to assume that the readers of Max Havelaar would always be male. Does this reflect patriarchy in the Dutch nation as a whole, or does it prove that Droogstoppel is – in addition to self-righteous, judgmental, and closed-minded – a chauvinist as well.

Multatuli: This can be open to interpretation. It does make his character all the more unlikable, but in a way, I also intended his perspective (which can be represented as the party who Max Havelaar himself tries to rebuke, I suppose) to be comical. 

Host: Plus, a different point of view, such as Droogstoppel, also always adds depth and conflict in a story, doesn’t it? Well, ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately, today will be the finale of discussion on Max Havelaar’s characters and plot, so I’m sad to say that Mr. Multatuli will not be joining us next episodeL. Let’s give him a good round of applause and bid him a safe Journey to Amsterdam, the final destination for his book tour in Europe.

Audience: (Applause, cheers) 

Host: However, this is not the end of “Coffee with Max Havelaar”, as we will be welcoming some special guests into the show to debate two consecutive topics. Join me again next time!



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