Conrad elevates and dignifies his theme with three sequences of recurrent allusions. He uses Hamlet (1601) to portray the similarly morbid, introspective, and tormented character of the young captain, his fears that he may go mad, and his shocking awareness of evil in the world. Conrad also uses the legend of the Flying Dutchman to explain the crime and curse of the old captain, and Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798) to describe the uncanny, death-ridden plight of the ship.

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