Initial critical response towards Aurora was generally unfavorable. During the 1950s, Disney received "" for depicting both Cinderella and Aurora as "naïve and malleable" characters, and failing to acknowledge the ways in which women's roles in society had evolved since Snow White's debut in 1937. Critics agree that Aurora represents "the classic " by being depicted as a beautiful young woman who is rescued by a stranger. of felt that the character was too similar to Snow White, writing, "The princess looks so much like Snow White they could be a couple of separated by three or four years." dismissed Aurora as a "delicate" and "vapid" character. 's Mary Grace Garis wrote that the character "suffers from having very little definable personality and ... serious ". Sonia Saraiya of echoed this sentiment, criticizing Aurora for lacking "interesting qualities"; Saraiya also ranked Aurora Disney's least princess. Similarly, Bustle also ranked Aurora the least feminist Disney Princess, with author Chelsea Mize expounding, "Aurora literally sleeps for like three quarters of the movie ... Aurora just straight-up has no agency, and really isn't doing much in the way of feminine progress." Mason J. Zimmer of ranked Aurora second among "8 Disney Princesses Who Are Actually The Worst Role Models" because "her entire personality seems to revolve around falling in love with a prince and that's about it. She's a bad role model by way of being a total non-entity." Dismissing the character as "barely more than a ", Leigh Butler of panned Aurora as "a knockoff who does nothing the whole film but sing wistfully about Finding Her Man, before becoming the ultimate passive Damsel in Distress". However, Butler went on to defend the character somewhat, writing, "Aurora’s cipher-ness in would be infuriating if she were the only female character in it, but the presence of the Fairies and Maleficent allow her to be what she is without it being a subconscious statement on what women are." Similarly, ranked Aurora the fourth most feminist Disney Princess because "Her aunts have essentially raised her in a place where women run the game."
Writing for 's , Michelle Munro observed that the first five Disney Princesses share physical and personality traits, namely their , naivety, kindness and compassion, "show[ing] viewers what Disney believed a princess should look and act like" at that time. Munro concluded that Aurora specifically can appear both spoiled and childish in demeanor at times. Bailey Cavender of The Silver Petticoat Review believes that the character's appearance and style is reminiscent of the , a popular character created and designed by graphic artist , who embodied the idea that "physical beauty was a measure of fitness, character, and Americanness". According to Cavender, Aurora's beauty was considered to be "ideal" for women at the time her film was released, embodying the "classic standards of beauty." In his book , Douglas Brode agreed that Aurora is "a model of modern (1950s) female glamour", comparing her long blonde hair to that of actress while likening her gown to the work of fashion designer . According to 's Noel Murray, Aurora's story is a metaphor about a "young woman being cautioned to avoid penetration." Similarly, Carrie R. Wheadon, writing for , interpreted Aurora's arousal by a handsome prince as being symbolic of a young woman's "transition to adulthood and sexual awakening." According to author Douglas Brode, Aurora is "torn between childlike loyalties and adult instincts", while The Disney Middle Ages: A Fairy-Tale and Fantasy Past author Tison Pugh believes that Aurora's first encounter with Prince Philip "tips her from fantasy into reality, from childhood into womanhood."
By default, Aurora is usually considered to be the film's . Leigh Butler of argues that the role of "" rightfully belongs to the three good fairies because they "make the critical decisions in the film, the ones which drive the action", while Aurora acts as little more than a . Butler expounded that Aurora "never grows as a character during the course of the film; she has no agency at all, in fact. She doesn’t act; she is acted upon. So she is definitely not the hero of the story." Helping Writers Become Authors' K. M. Weiland agreed, writing, "Sleeping Beauty has no arc. Prince Phillip has no arc. And, even more importantly, neither of them are present from start to finish in the story. Without the fairies to hold this thing together, the plot would have lacked any kind of impetus or cohesion." Upon initial viewing of , a writer for Anibundel originally dismissed Aurora as "the ultimate Disney princess in the most negative and passive sense of the stereotype ... playing no part whatsoever in her own outcome." However, in retrospect, the author's opinion eventually evolved upon subsequent viewings: "Although Aurora has little to do with her own conclusion, it’s not a mark of her being a non-person. Instead it reflects how sometimes bad things just happen which we have no control over, a difficult but important lesson." Anibundel does agree that although Aurora is s , she can hardly be considered the film's protagonist, instead believing instead that the film actually lacks one completely. Meanwhile, the author dubbed Aurora the film's most sympathetic character because she has "thoughts, feelings, aspirations, and emotions," elaborating, "While most characters ... are overly focused on the plot and reacting to events, Briar Rose is unaware of the other events so we get to see a more authentic everyday side of her." In his book , author Douglas Brode wrote that the fairies' raising of Aurora mirrors "precisely that sort of women's commune numerous feminists experimented with throughout the seventies."
Filmmaker had long been attempting to adapt the fairy tale "" into a full-length animated feature film for several years, basing it on both and the 's versions of the story. Disney was considering abandoning work on the film completely until singer was discovered, the casting of whom as the film's heroine finally allowed the project to graduate from to production. At the time Aurora was conceived, there had only been two other Disney princesses: and , the heroines of Disney's (1937) and (1950), respectively. Disney wanted his third princess to be as different from Snow White as possible, but several strong similarities remain between the two characters and their respective stories. Gary Susman of observed that both films feature "an evil witch jealous of a young and beautiful princess, the princess hiding out in a woodland cottage with a group of caretakers ... and the witch putting the princess into a deathlike sleep, from which only true love's kiss can awaken her."